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A Study of the Society and Personality 
Development of the Pine Ridge Sioux 


With the collaboration of 




University of Chicago Press Chicago 37 
Agent; Cambridge University Press London 

Copyright 1946 by The University of Chicago. All rights 
reserved. Published 1946. Composed and printed by the 
University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, U.S. A, 




- t -;, r ..., ; , \i ;,-- Qffce f*f Indian. Affairs 

\\\ LLO^D \V-\RMF. I*. ;:^7f, JOHN COLLIER, Chairman 




LAT-RA THOMPSON, C^-ordinator 


ROYAL HASSRICK, Field Assistant 




















Test Analysts 


Thematic Apperception (adapted) 

Grace Arthur Performance 



Goodenough Draw-a-Man 



Emotional Response 



Moral Ideology 



ROMA K. McNiCKLE, Editor 













* Deceased September 21 , 1 944. 


f ^HE conviction of racial and religious superiority which has characterized 
I the white man in his contact with races of other colors is not uniquely a 
JL white man's characteristic. Each Indian group as well as every other racial 
unit around the world has thought of itself as the chosen people and frequently 
has so designated itself in the tribal name with which it refers to the <k in-group." 
Therefore, in almost every conflict the successful warriors considered that they 
were dispossessing a less able, a less cultivated, a less worthy rival; and sometimes 
as a result of this attitude they destroyed their adversaries or enslaved them, 
forcing an acceptance of the dominant customs. Yet it is certain that never before 
white dominance in the United States began were the many Indian groups subject 
to a continuous suppression by a technologically superior alien race suppression 
working, by intention, in one direction through centuries. The results of such 
suppression in one group of Indians are described in this volume. 

One of the major contributions of democratic philosophy has been increased 
concern with the well-being of the individual. The declaration of human rights 
which characterized the democratic revolution both in Europe and in America 
carried implications with regard to personal values such as rarely before had 
entered into human planning. It is probably natural that the extension of this 
concern about the effect on human beings of gross and ruthless modifications of 
individual and group life should be extended to a "subject people" considerably 
later than to the members of the dominant society. To those of us whose profes- 
sions presuppose the importance of the individual and the need for continuing 
knowledge of individual reactions to the interplay of social forces, it is difficult to 
justify the operation of an agency like the Indian Service, whose major concern 
is people, without the basic information about these people that psychological and 
anthropological research alone can make available. 

The basic research of which this report on the Sioux is but one part, while long 
delayed, nevertheless marks a new and important departure in our dealing with 
the Indians of the United States. No single document reporting on a small seg- 
ment of the Indian people can of itself be ,of great significance. As indication, 
however, of a new kind of thinking about a group of people which may be pre- 
liminary to new and constructive planning regarding federal service for these 
people, this volume and the other reports of this project may be of far greater 
importance than they first appear. In the cataclysm of this second World War it 



may *ccm incongruous that agencies of the American government should be 
greatly concerned as to the impact of our white culture upon a minority group 
(the Sioux) numbering less than thirty thousand souls. We have just witnessed 
millions of people in Europe and Asia whose lives have been disrupted and whose 
economic and cultural patterns have been ruthlessly destroyed. In the face of 
forces whose origins we are at a loss to understand and whose energies we are 
unable to control, why at this time should we be concerned with an analysis of 
what has happened and is happening in the lives of a few thousand Sioux In- 
dians? The major answer is that, in addition to being important to the Indians 
themselves, this study may also aid in pointing the way to a wiser and better 
pattern of relationship between all people and may teach us how to conserve 
human values rather than destroy them. 

The author of this volume, Dr. Gordon Macgregor, also supervised the field 
work and analysis of the results of the Sioux study of the Indian Education 
Research Project. He is an experienced anthropologist who has been in the Indian 
Service for eight years, formerly as assistant anthropologist in the Applied An- 
thropology Unit and as supervisor of education in the Division of Education and 
now as superintendent of the Tongue River Indian Agency, Montana. 

Dr. Macgregor was assisted by two collaborators: Royal B. Hassrick, an anthro- 
pologist, formerly research secretary and executive director of the American 
Association on Indian Affairs and now with the Foreign Morale Analysis Divi- 
sion, Office of War Information; and Dr. William E. Henry, a psychologist on 
the staff of the Committee on Human Development and the Department of 
Anthropology of the University of Chicago. 

Director of Education 

Office of Indian Affairs 
CHICAGO, Iixmns 
Jaauaiy 15, 1945 


f SHIS volume is the second of five integrative studies of Indian personality 

I produced as part of the Indian Education Research Project, which was 
JL undertaken jointly by the Committee on Human Development of the 
University of Chicago and the United States Office of Indian Affairs. 1 

The objective of this project was to investigate, analyze, and compare the devel- 
opment of personality in the Sioux, Hopi, Navaho, Papago, and Zuni tribes in the 
context of the total environmental setting sociocultural, geographical, and histor- 
ical for implications in regard to Indian Service administration. The project is 
the first step in a long-range plan of research, the ultimate aim of which is to 
attempt a systematic evaluation of the whole Indian administrative program with 
special reference to the effect of the new Indian Service policy on the Indians as 
individuals, to indicate the direction toward which these policies are leading, and 
to suggest how the effectiveness of Indian administration may be increased. 

Since its inception in 1941, the research has progressed experimentally, under 
the supervision of the research committee of the University of Chicago, through 
the co-operative efforts of a large staff drawn from several disciplines chiefly an- 
thropology, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, medicine, linguistics, education, and 
administration. The specialists have brought their techniques to bear integratively 
on the manifold aspects of the task, namely, the development of methodology, the 
training of field workers, the field work, the analysis of field data, and the inter- 
pretation of results. Out of these efforts there has emerged a method of socio- 
psychological analysis which has been applied, within the limits of the available 
data, funds, and time, to the five selected Indian tribes. 

The first field problem was to investigate the development of the personalities 
of a sample of about a thousand children, six to eighteen years old, selected by age 
groups so as to represent two or more communities in each of the tribes, in the 
context of the total environmental setting. The systematic study of individual per- 
sonalities was limited to children of school age because of their greater accessibility 
in regard to the testing program. The personalities and life-hisiories of these 
children were studied by means of a battery of psychological tests of both the 
projective and the performance types, supplemented by interviews with parents, 
teachers, and other community members and by medical examinations. Most of 
the testing and interviewing was done by Indian Service teachers, and it was 
supervised by members of the research staff. Tests requiring highly trained techni- 


cians for their administration, such as the Rorschach, Thematic Apperception 
(adapted;, and medical examinations, were given by staff specialists. 

The data concerning the present Sioux culture were obtained chiefly through 
field work initiated and carried out by the project personnel, but information on 
the physical environment and history have been drawn mainly from the literature, 
both published and unpublished. AJ1 the psychological data were analyzed at the 
University of Chicago by members of the research staff. The statements and con- 
clusions arc those of the author and are not necessarily indorsed by the University 
of Chicago or the Office of Indian Affairs. 


In the development of Indian Service programs since 1933, especially in eco- 
nomic rehabilitation, there have arisen several baffling and superficially inex- 
plicable problems of acceptance and adjustment by the Indians. The Pine Ridge 
Agency has been particularly interested in having some analysis of Sioux behavior 
in order to advance the rehabilitation program with greater ease to the Indians. 
At this agency's request one study of the Indian Education Research Project was 
made on Pine Ridge Reservation. 

This research was carried on in three areas selected on the basis of their rela- 
tionship to white life: Kyle, Wanblee, and Pine Ridge town. Kyle, in which the 
major part of the work was conducted, is actually a district of several native com- 
munities which have a common center and school in Kyle village. Families from 
six of these communities were included in the study. They live in completely 
rural areas and, although a few white farmers live among them, are not under 
great pressure from, or in intimate relationship with, whites. These communities 
are fairly representative of the reservation in their life, economic status, and extent 
of admixture with white people. 

Wanblee is a farmer's market town which boomed with the great wheat market 
of World War L Most of its white population left during the depression of the 
1930's, and in 1942 the majority of the population were Indians, many of whom 
had moved into town from near-by rural areas because they were not working 
their farms or because they wished to send their children to the local Indian 
school The racial composition of this Indian community is very similar to that of 
die Kyle group: a few families with very little Indian blood are townspeople, and 
many of predominantly Indian blood belong to the rural, rather than the town, 
population- The only significant difference between the Indians living in the 
country and those living in the Indian camp at Wanblee is the latter group's 
greater dependency upon direct relief as a means of living. 

Different in composition is the third community, Pine Ridge town, in which the 
Indian Agency is located Here the majority of the Indians are mixed-bloods. 



These families, most of whom live by wage work, follow in their homes and so- 
ciety the local white way of life to a considerable extent. Their relationships, and 
probably their intermarriage, with whites are more frequent than for any other 
group of Indians on the reservation. 

In order to determine the nature of Sioux personality, 200 children, aged six to 
eighteen years, were selected at random from the three Indian day schools and 
one public school in the three areas of study and psychological testing. The only 
limitations placed upon the selection of names from the school census were that 
there should be obtained the same representation of white blood admixture as in 
the total resident reservation population, an equal division between boys and girls, 
and an equal distribution among four age groups. It was impossible to obtain 
sufficient life-history information or tests on a number of these 200 children, so 
that the actual sample on which the personality section of this book is based was 


Degree of Blood 

(Per Cent) 

(Per Cent) 

All degrees 






Three -fourths Indian blood 



One-half Indian blood 



One-fourth Indian blood 



Less than one-fourth Indian blood .... 



reduced to 166. Of this total, the representation by blood group is shown in 
Table 1. The boys and girls were distributed by selected age groups, as listed in 
Table 2. 

Information about these children was obtained through tests and interviews 
with the children, their parents, their teachers, and other persons in their com- 
munities. The tests used are described in Part III and in Appendix I. The results 
were analyzed to present a picture of the group personality of the children; dif- 
ferences between children in the four age groups and between boys and girls 
were also noted. Interviews were used to obtain voluntary information about each 
child's health, his early training, his relations with the members of his household 
and his community, and his behavior and interests. By setting all the information 
gathered through tests and interviews against the background o the community 
and the reservation, the influence of the children's social and economic situation 
upon their personalities and their reactions to the situation could be seen. 

The special interest of this study of personality has been in the effect of cultural 
change and present social conditions upon the Sioux. The nature of this change 
and the resultant disorganization of the society have profoundly affected the 


Sioux people and may fairly be assumed to be major determinants in their present 
personality adjustments. 

However, the fact that this study was not concerned with biological endowment 
and physiological changes should not be construed to mean that these factors 
do not have far-reaching effects upon personality. On the contrary, this research 
was operated on the thesis that personality and individual development are the 
resultants of the interaction of a number of complex processes. Organic processes 
of the body (physical inheritance, present and past physical conditions and char- 
acteristics) ; psychological processes (the need for affection and emotional security, 
for some degree of status and recognition as persons, for a feeling of unity with 
something larger and more secure than the individual) ; social processes operating 
in the environment (the attitudes and modes of behavior of those who train the 
child and the demands and prohibitions of the social group to which the individual 






Per Cent of 

All ages 





5 7 years 




14 ' 

8-10 years 





11-13 years 





14-18 years 





belongs) all these operate to influence and shape personality and behavior. Irreg- 
ularities and experiences arising from any of these areas of influence may produce 
injuries and distortions in the entire personality structure. But long-enduring and 
intense cultural disruptions may be reflected in disturbances of behavior and 
personality organization as clearly as long-enduring or intense physical depriva- 
tions or irregular physical conditions, 

One further major concept is assumed in the theory of personality development 
n"*M*M in this study* Any given overt behavior is a function of the entire per- 

sooaiky organization rather than a simple reaction to a given objective stimulus. 

Thus only when the entire personality demands and experiences are considered, 


or purpose of the individual, can the significance of any behavior reaction or any 

sot of reactions be given genuine meaning. 

la presenting tbe environment aad the cultural changes aad their effects upon 
Ac personalities of Roe Ridge children, the material has been organized on the 
following bask Part I describes Sioux society in the past aad at present, giving 
die historical and economic bases o reservation society today, the values and 
attitude* which character izcd the ppc-rcservation culture, ad those which it has 


retained or acquired in the last seventy-five years. Part II describes briefly how the 
Sioux child grows up. Against this background of the society as it has been and 
is today are set, in Part III, the personalities of the children who will be the adult 
Sioux of tomorrow. Conclusions follow in Part IV. 


The field work of this study was conducted during the period from August 1, 
1942, to June 1, 1943. Deep appreciation should be expressed to all the members of 
the field staff for their conscientious and enthusiastic work, all of which was done 
in addition to their regular duties. To Dow Carnal, principal of Little Wound 
Day School, special appreciation is expressed both for industry and enthusiasm in 
making field studies in addition to his heavy responsibilities and for the informa- 
tion he gave from his eleven years' experience on Pine Ridge. 

The months of work for the field staff would have doubled except for the active 
co-operation of many other Pine Ridge school and Agency employees who ex- 
pedited the work of testing and made reports on the sample group of children. 
Grateful acknowledgment is made of the co-operation of the teaching staffs of 
Oglala Community High School and the Pine Ridge and Wanblee public 
schools. Appreciation is also expressed to the members of the Agency Health Divi- 
sion for their time and effort in making physical examinations of the children. 

To W. O. Roberts, superintendent of the Pine Ridge Agency; William Nich- 
olson, superintendent of education; Albert Pyles, principal of Oglala Community 
High School; Mrs. Ruth Heinemann, social worker; Rex Kildow, Everett Jordan, 
and their assistants on the Pine Ridge staff, thanks are due for their time and 
co-operation in assisting the progress of the survey and in contributing informa- 
tion and records. Mr. Roberts followed the survey with great interest, shared his 
wide information about the history and the behavior of the Dakota, learned from 
twenty years of work among them, and constructively criticized the manuscript. 

Royal B. Hassrick, anthropologist from the Graduate School of the University 
of Pennsylvania, joined the staff to conduct the Rorschach Psychodiagnostic tests 
and to assist in the field work. For his assistance and analysis of the Rorschach 
data, I am greatly indebted. His knowledge of the Sioux culture, drawn from 
earlier studies among the Dakota, his manuscripts on the Dakota kirjship system 
and native religion, which he generously offered for use in the study, his observa- 
tions and discussions, and particularly his companionship during the field work 
are gifts and associations whose meaning is very incompletely described as col- 

Dr. William E. Henry of the University of Chicago, who acted as consultant in 
the analysis and preparation of the psychological material, clarified the basic psy- 
chological problems of the Dakota children in his interpretation of the Thematic 


Apperception tests of the group and individual case studies. His particular con- 
tribution and insights and his assistance to me in getting my bearings in the field 
of psychology are gratefully acknowledged. 

For suggcstionsTcriticism, and insight into the social problems of the Dakota 
and for reading and helpful guidance in the preparation of the manuscript, I am 
deeply indebted and grateful to Professor W. Lloyd Warner, chairman of the 
University of Chicago's committee of the project, and to Professor Ralph Tyler, 
member of the committee. To Professor Robert Havighurst, also of the Univer- 
sity's committee, I wish to express my gratitude for guidance and planning in 
setting up the psychological tests, for analysis of the psychological battery, and for 
critical reading of the manuscript. For their contribution in the analyses of tests, 
acknowledgment is made to his assistants and other members of the research staff. 

Appreciation for consultation and advice is extended to Dr. Bruno Klopfer, 
director of the Rorschach Institute; to the late Dr. Eugene Lerner, formerly pro- 
fessor of psychology, Sarah Lawrence College; and to Dr. Grace Arthur, who 
gave instruction in the administration of her test at Pine Ridge, 

To John Collier, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, who, from his deep insight 
into Indian problems and Indian needs, initiated this research; to Willard W. 
Beatty, Director of Education, for helpfully criticizing the manuscript and for 
writing the Foreword; to Dorothea Leighton, M.D., special physician in the 
Indian Service, for her analysis of the physical examination data and for her 
advice in the psychological analysis; to Dr. Laura Thompson, co-ordinator of the 
project, for criticisms and suggestions; and to the other members of the research 
staff, I wish to express my thanks. 

For careful and understanding editing of this study, I wish to express my 
especial gratitude to Roma K. McNickle. I should also like to thank E. H. Coul- 
son, of the Forestry Division, Office of Indian Aff airs, for preparing the two maps 
used in the book. 

To earlier studies of the Pine Ridge Dakota by Dr. Scudder Mekeel and Erik 
Hctnburgcr Erikson, I am obligated far more than acknowledgments or ref- 
erences can express* I have borrowed heavily from their ideas and insights and, if 
credit and references have not always been made in the text, acknowledgment of 
their gitat contribution is made here. Constant study of their writings, association 
with them at Pine Ridge in 1937, and especially the long discussions with Dr. 
Mekeel during the writing and editing of the manuscript have made much of 
their thiakiog mine. If this work has carried forward their earlier researches, I 
hope that they will consider themselves still active participants in the anthropology 
and psychology of the Sioux. 

Acknowledgment of their many courtesies and aids and their co-operation in 
giving information and in taking the many and tedious tests is made to the 


Indians of Kyle, Pine Ridge, and Wanblee. It was their friendship and interest 
that made this study possible. It is sincerely hoped they will find the analysis 
herein presented useful as a guide, and not a criticism, for themselves and for the 
people who are working with them toward greater understanding in their com- 
mon endeavor in developing their life on the reservation. 


January 15, 1945 


1. The other studies resulting from this project are: Hopi The Hopi Way, by Laura Thompson 
and Alice Joseph (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1944); Navaho The People and Their 
Children, by Dorothea C. Leighton and Clyde Kluckhohn (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, forth- 
coming) ; Papago The Desert People^ by Alice Joseph, Rosamond Spicer, and Jane Chesky (in prepara- 
tion, 1945); Zuni (title to be determined), by Clyde Kluckhohn and Dorothea C. Leighton (in 
preparation, 1945). 




























INDEX 225 














FOUR Sioux BOYS 136 

FOUR Sioux GIRLS 141 










To MOST white Americans the Dakota, or Sioux, are the typical Indians, who 
dressed in eagle-feather war bonnets, hunted the buffalo, and fought sav- 
agely against the wagon trains of emigrants and the cavalry of the United 
States Army. The Western or Teton-Dakota, with whom this book deals, are 
descendants of several of the bands and their chiefs who led the resistance of the 
Northern Plains Indians. The fathers and grandfathers of the oldest generation 
living today were men who for years fought off the United States Army and, in 
one battle against Custer, severely defeated it. Until 1855 these Dakota were free 
and independent, living as nomadic warriors and hunters and following the way 
of life which they had developed in two hundred years on the plains. In that year 
General Harney began a campaign against them which lasted for twenty years. 
By treaty in 1868 the Teton-Dakota agreed to accept a single large reservation, 
where their hunting rights were to be undisturbed. An uprising in 1876 was 
followed by defeat and final acceptance of reservation life. They had no choice 
but to accept, because the buffalo, their basic food supply, had almost vanished 
from the plains. 

The Pine Ridge Reservation, on which 8,500 Teton-Dakota of the Oglala and 
Brule subtribes are living today, is only a small part of the Great Sioux Reservation 
originally set aside for all the tribe. Pine Ridge itself originally included four 
counties along the southern boundary of South Dakota, covering nearly 4,400 
square miles. This area, almost the size of the state of Connecticut, was later 
reduced by the opening of one county for homesteading by white settlers. To the 
east of Pine Ridge lies the Rosebud Reservation, where live most of the Brule and 
other subtribes of the Teton-Dakota. Pine Ridge is bounded in part on the north 
by the White River, a large stream which flows in a northeasterly direction across 
the western part of the reservation and then eastward to join the Missouri. Many 
small streams, which flow throughout the summer in years of heavy snow and 
good rainfall, cross the reservation and empty into the White River. The Pine 



Ridge country is rolling high-plains land covered with short grass and broken by 
long pine-covered ridges running out of the Black Hills at the northwest. 

The Dakota came onto the reservation not as a vanquished people but rather as 
eagles driven by a winter storm to accept captivity and food until they could fly 
away again. 1 Yet, even before the last of the bands came to the Pine Ridge Agency 
to obtain their rations, there were some leaders and their followers who saw the 
inevitability of dominance by the white man. With the freedom for much in- 
dividual choice which was characteristic of their society, some of these Indians 
began to adopt white ways and to extend their friendship to white men, both 
military and civilians. Some came very early into possession of a few cattle, 
probably by stealing them from whites as they had formerly stolen horses from 
other enemies. Some became scouts for the Army, although this was infrequent 
in the early days of the Sioux-white conflict. They wore white men's clothing, 
took jobs as they could get them, and later joined mission churches. These 
"friendly" Indians were few at first, but they paved the way for many others who, 
sometimes in entire bands, accepted settlement and peaceful life on the reservation. 

The Dakota on the reservation today give the impression that they have now 
accepted white life and are far removed from the hunting, raiding, and tepee- 
dwelling life of a few generations ago. This is indeed the case; but, as in every 
change to another culture, the process has not been one of simple substitution. 
Indian faces are still to be seen, of course, and a few old men and little boys with 
long braids. Most of the women wear blankets, and a number of the people also 
wear moccasins. Among themselves many families speak Siouan. These are 
among the few remaining outward signs of a continuing Indian life. 

The white visitor is more forcefully impressed by the frame and log homes, 
the schools and churches, and the country stores. Although the storekeepers -are 
known as "traders" by tradition, the Indian customers buy with cash or charge 
and do very little trading as such. There are also beauty shops, movie shows, drug 
stores, and cafes and, in them all, Indian as well as white customers. 

Except for their darker faces and large brown eyes, the children look like chil- 
dren of any rural town on the plains. They play basketball in the schoolyard and 
travel to school in orange-colored busses. Around their homes, little boys rope 
fence posts or puppies, while their sisters play with dolls or jackstones. 

Traveling across the reservation, one finds whites living among the Indians 
both in the rural areas and in the towns. Around the white farms, barns, and 
sheds, equipment and livestock show greater prosperity. There are also signs of 
greater activity among the white men at work with their tractors or trucks. Prop- 
erty seems to be better maintained. 

If a visitor goes inside both white and Indian homes, he will find the differences 


between whites and Indians not quite so clear cut. The outward symbols by 
which he has learned to distinguish the homes of one group from the other do not 
always hold true. The owner of an apparently prosperous ranch, when met at his 
door, may reveal physical characteristics that show part-Indian inheritance. The 
wife of a white farmer may be a distinctly Indian woman in appearance. 

Visiting at Indian cabins, one may find an old, unquestionably full-blood couple 
living in a single room that is immaculately scrubbed. Each piece of household 
furniture is placed against the wall, and every article either hung up or packed 
away in trunks. The arrangement of the house may seem reminiscent of the old 
tepee, but the order and care show that the wife has thoroughly kept the habits 
of a good white housekeeper learned at Indian school forty or fifty years ago. 

On the other hand, some Indian homes have litter and trash around them, and 
inside there are dirt, garbage, ragged blankets, and clothes strewn about the floor. 
The occupants may appear to be full-bloods or mixed-bloods. Among them there 
may be no sign of farming operations or a cattle herd or any economic activity. 
Many more Indians have their own cattle, chickens, and vegetable gardens. But 
the visitor will find as he goes from home to home that the majority of the 
Indians have little as compared to the white people of the countryside. The cattle 
herds are small, the gardens are small, the cornfields are small. Wheat and other 
grain crops are rare in Indian fields. Poverty characterizes most of the Indian 

'Not only economic activity is lacking in Indian homes; there is little social inter- 
action in the community. The tempo is slow and quiet, and life is marked by an 
idleness that reflects apathy as well as the lack of full-time occupation. 

As one remains in the reservation communities, he becomes aware of a great 
variety in Indian habits and ways of living and also in Indian personalities. He 
will see that between the light mixed-blood rancher on his profitable cattle ranch 
and the full-blood in his cabin, living by government rations and a little work, 
there are extremes of behavior and outlook that makes them appear to belong to 
two different worlds. 

The light mixed-blood talks of the difficulties of wartime restrictions and the 
price of cattle. He looks and lives more like his white neighbor than like his darker 
Indian cousin. In fact, he belongs socially to the group of whites who ranch and 
farm or keep stores in the area. He eats in their homes and attends their parties, 
and his children marry their children. 

From the full-blood, a visitor will hear stories of the great days of the Sioux, 
told with many sign-language gestures. Perhaps a buckskin garment or a beauti- 
fully beaded pipe bag will be brought out for his inspection. Talk may turn to 
complaints about the Indian Service, the hard times, the failure of the garden, or 
the fact that the school bus comes too e^arly or too far from his grandchildren's 


door. If the visitor goes to an evening dance at the school, he will find his full- 
blood friends dancing the Omaha Dance, performed as in the old days only by 
men and women in Indian dress, or the Rabbit Dance, which, as a concession to 
white ways, is danced with Indian reserve by couples. Upstairs the young mixed- 
bloods and the Agency employees will be dancing the waltz and foxtrot to fiddle 
and concertina. The older full-bloods are the nucleus of a large group which tries 
to maintain what it can of Indian life. Their dancing symbolizes their cultural 
position and attitudes preserving the old and making slight concessions to 
change. Their chief satisfactions come from doing things the Indian way. 

The cultural position of the majority of the Pine Ridge Indians lies between the 
two extremes of the white-assimilated mixed-bloods lind the unassimilated full- 
bloods who live in the shadow of their former Indian culture. But running 
through the whole reservation society is a strong split, which basically is one of 
attitudes. There are political divisions over following the current administrative 
policy set forth in the Indian Reorganization Act and over past administrative 
measures. There are divisions based on being "full-blood" or "mixed-blood," 
which, it is important to remember, are actually sociological rather than bio- 
logical groups, standing primarily for the way of living according to Indian or 
white patterns rather than the actual degree of Indian blood. 2 There are those 
who make a living by farming or wage work. There are the others who prefer to 
be dependent on the government and exert their efforts toward getting more help 
and financial restitution from Congress for wrongs they believe the United States 
committed in the past. This division of outlook within the tribe has brought an 
increasing amount of conflict of one group against another. It appears in every 
new issue the Sioux face and tends to retard their economic and social develop- 

This difference in attitudes began almost with the arrival of whites in the 
Teton-Dakota country. To the original group favoring white influence were 
added in a few years the full-blood young people who were taken away to Hamp- 
ton and Carlisle schools for training in white vocations and habits. Then the 
half-bloods began to appear. They were the children of white fathers who sternly 
insisted that their sons and daughters follow the American, and often European, 
pattern in which they themselves had been reared. From the increase of this 
group by continued white intermarriages and intermixture of mixed-blood and 
full-blood, the biological mixed-blood group now ranges from fifteen-sixteenths to 
one-sixteenth of Dakota blood. It forms 60 per cent of the resident reservation 

In spite of the predominance of intermixture with white, more than iialf of the 
Pine Ridge Indian population belong to the sociological full-blood group. They 
maintain a similar level of living on a very low average income, adhere to a 


number of Dakota customs, have a common set of attitudes (at least by genera- 
tion), and usually talk among themselves in their Teton-Dakota dialect. They 
form the social group which comes to mind when whites, mixed-bloods, and even 
local full-blood employees of other tribes speak of the "Indians." Descriptions and 
life-patterns of the present-day Dakota in this study refer to the sociological full- 
blood group. Sharp differences in the habits of the sociological mixed-bloods are 
specifically noted. 

The Dakota who have chosen to follow the "white man's road," as they term it, 
are looked upon by white people as progressive. Actually they are the more real- 
istic. The Indians who first became cattlemen, settled in permanent homes, and 
sent their children to school were accepting the inevitable. The sons and daughters 
of the early white men and Indian women followed the customs and attitudes of 
their fathers because of early childhood training. They learned the white ways of 
life before they were old enough to choose or understand their cultural position. 
However, changing from an Indian to a white cultural pattern, or merely fol- 
lowing a father's teaching, was not a simple process. For those adult full-bloods 
who changed, there were the old sentiments and attachments to a life that had 
been stamped in them in childhood. There were also the constant pressures of the 
conservative Indian group. Children trained by white fathers were attached to the 
Indian people and to Indian ways of living by the training of their Indian mothers 
and the associations with Indian playmates. Thus it is not surprising that within 
individuals themselves there were divisions of loyalties and affections and in their 
behavior much ambivalence and uncertainty. 

The Indians who in the first years of reservation life tried to cling to Indian 
ways and cherished the values and attitudes which supported them "have their 
modern counterpart in the conservative and more nearly full-blood element of the 
reservation. At first the conservative group would not accept the circumstances 
into which they had been thrust. They fought, negotiated, and even employed 
supernatural means to overcome the whites, to restore the buffalo, and to regain 
freedom upon the plains. As Erikson has well pointed out, they could not accept 
the fact that the "old days" were gone forever, that the buffalo hunts, the war 
parties, the long processions across the plains to tribal meetings, and their religious 
worship in the Sun Dance were no more. 3 This belief that the present situation 
is not here to stay still lingers in the minds of many. At least its conscious accept- 
ance is avoided by thinking, dreaming, and believing that the old life can still be 
regained. To them the old life is reality, and the necessity for Indians to live much 
as whites do is still unreal, or at least to be avoided. 

No one Indian, of course, is so completely out of touch with reality as this un- 
qualified statement would imply. Indeed, only a people of such stamina and fibre 


as the Dakota could have stood without cracking under the terrific strain of 
events they have encountered in the last eighty years. Yet, despite their surface 
acquiescence, unwillingness to accept modern life and cultural change and the 
fantasy of an eventual return of the former Indian life are still common to the 
thinking of many Dakota. 

This refusal or inability to accept the apparent fate of becoming socially and 
culturally white men has not prevented them from accepting many of the material 
aspects of white life : skin tepees have been exchanged for log cabins, open fires for 
iron stoves. The conservative group has moved toward assimilation, embracing 
many elements of white life into their own. This trend has not, however, taken 
place without great personal and social disorganization. Thus the conservative or 
less assimilated group, living in much of the spirit and the vestiges of their old 
culture, are on the fringes of both Indian and white cultures. In these respects the 
majority of the Pine Ridge Dakota are marginal people both as whites and as 

It would be an error to assume, however, that the Dakota show social differ- 
ences and disorganization because of sheer slowness and stubbornness. This 
process of cultural change takes place in all groups, although not always with such 
disastrous effects or sharp contrasts. Even European groups coming to America 
with the desire to change have not escaped difficulties and conflicts of adjustment 
that only time can iron out. The Dakota in their change have had to move from a 
simple to a complex culture and to a complex culture that was changing from a 
frontier society to more stable, settled order within a growing young nation. 
Events moved with great rapidity; the physical environment changed under ex- 
ploitation, abuse, and erosion; and one economy after another was swept from 
beneath th,em. The pressure to become "civilized" was intense. All the Indians 
changed to some extent with the course of events. 

The wide range of Sioux behavior, the seeming sets of patterns within patterns, 
and the confusion of cultural values resulting in strong personal anxiety will 
appear in later chapters of this book. In their recent economic and social change 
the Dakota have "had neither much opportunity to contribute to their new life 
nor freedom of choice or education or understanding before acceptance of white 
life. Frequently the direction and final decision rested in the hands of the whites. 
Forbidden by circumstance to remain warriors and hunters, they have had to find 
new roles within the new economic and social order. They found in cattle, as 
they did in the gun and the horse, a means of making a living and adjusting in 
their new cultural milieu. But they lost their cattle during World War I, and, as 
a result, they became even more disorganized from this second loss of the founda- 
tion of their economy. Under the present administration the Pine Ridge Indians 


have been able to purchase new cattle and take over much direction of their 
political affairs through a tribally elected council. Present signs give promise of a 
successful redevelopment of their economic and social life. 


1. Julia B. McGillycuddy, McGillycuddy Agent (Stanford University, Calif.: Stanford University 
Press, 1941), p. 153.' 

2. Throughout the text the use of "full-blood" and "mixed -blood" will refer to the sociological, 
not the biological, groups. 

3. Erik Homburger Erikson, "Observations on Sioux Education" Journal of Psychology, VII 
(1939), 105. 

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THE known history of the Teton-Dakota has been a series of adjustments to 
new environments and ways of life. About two hundred and fifty years ago 
these Indians came from the woodlands and prairies onto the plains and 
adapted themselves to hunting the buffalo in this treeless country. A century and 
a half elapsed before the white man's encroachments on their territory and their 
food supply began the struggle which ended in acceptance of settlement on 
reservations. In 1869, when they began moving into reservation agencies, the 
Teton-Dakota started to travel in earnest the long road toward the white man's 


The Teton-Dakota are the western division of the Dakota people who lived 
formerly around Mille Lacs, Minnesota. Their language, which belongs to the 
Siouan stock, links them with the Omaha, the Assiniboine, and other tribes 
living on the plains and prairies and with a few scattered tribes in eastern and 
southern United States. From scientific research it appears that the Siouan group 
once lived in the Ohio Valley. 1 Historical evidence indicates that whites first met 
the Teton-Dakota at the headwaters of the Mississippi in 1680. 2 They moved into 
the prairies before, and independently of, the Central and Eastern Dakota divi- 
sions, the Yankton and Santee. All these divisions may have come to the Mille 
Lac region from the east and then pushed westward in historic times under pres- 
sure from the Chippewa, armed with white men's guns. 

According to tradition, the Teton-Dakota in their westward trek moved in two 
groups. 3 The Oglala and Brule subtribes moved south to the Blue Earth River in 
Minnesota and then west to the James River and finally to the Missouri, which 
they reached about 1760. 4 The second group, including the Minneconjou, Sans 
Arcs, Two Kettles, Hunkpapa, and Blackfeet Teton-Dakota, moved first to Big 
Stone Lake, on the present Minnesota-South Dakota boundary, and then west- 
ward on a northern route parallel to that of the Oglala and Brule. 

' In taking this first step of their westward, migration, the Teton-Dakota moved 



to the fringe of the eastern woodland area and into the high-grass prairie coun- 
try, which presented them with new problems of living. As they went farther 
westward and came into contact with other plains tribes, they continued to modify 
their culture, until it became one of the typical examples of Plains Indian life. 
This culture developed around the great herds of buffalo which roamed the high 
plains west of the Missouri River, from north of the Canadian border to Texas. 

When whites first encountered Indians thought to have belonged to the Teton- 
Dakota group, they were traveling on foot and transporting their baggage by 
dog-drawn travois. 5 By 1760, after they migrated to the Missouri River, 6 some 
Teton-Dakota, probably Oglala and Brule, had obtained a few horses. Before 
they reached the Black Hills (about 1780) , 7 they are known to have had good 
herds of horses, but just when they began to travel as mounted tribes is not yet 
ascertained. They first had guns in any quantity about 1750. 8 

With the gun and the horse, introduced by Europeans but reaching the Teton- 
Dakota first through other Indians, this tribe could spread over the plains country 
that abounded with buffalo. The horse made possible hunting and traveling over 
the vast stretches of the plains, and the gun gave them means to fight similarly 
armed tribes and overcome those who were without them. 9 

Like the whites who kter followed them, the Teton found the plains occupied. 
The Arikara held the region of the Missouri Valley where the Oglala and Brule 
wished to cross the river. For years the invaders were held back by the Arikara, 
but after smallpox decimated the latter 's villages they were forced to retreat up the 
river. The Cheyenne, who also lived along the river, gave way to the newcomers 
with little resistance. Later the Teton had to fight the Pawnee, the Kiowa, and the 
Crow for the Black Hills, and they defeated the Mandan to obtain the best buffalo 
grounds. Once having obtained control over the region of western Nebraska, 
South and North Dakota, and eastern Montana and Wyoming, the Teton pushed 
no farther. It should be kept in mind that, although the Teton later fought with 
the whites and with alien Indian tribes to keep them from encroaching on their 
hunting grounds, they themselves had fought to conquer territory. This strongly 
qualifies the frequent assertion that their fighting was a kind of game, with only 
spoils or honor as the object. 

The first coming of the whites brought great material prosperity to the Indians. 
The fur-tradersfirst the French and later the^Americans brought guns, knives, 
axes, and iron pots to trade for pelts. These articles came into the hands of the 
Sioux through trade with their eastern neighbors, the Chippewa, and later directly 
from the traders. These men were not interested in disrupting the life of the 
Indians; indeed, many white traders entered into Indian life by marrying Dakota 
women, as the prevalence of French names on the reservation today suggests. It 
was to the traders* interest that Indian economic activity should be encouraged in 


order that hunting and trapping might flourish. Later the first American pioneers 
into the west crossed the Teton country along the valley of the Platte but were 
not interested in settling. 

By 1841, however, hundreds of people were emigrating by wagon train to the 
West Coast and raiding the buffalo herds for food. Then came the thousands over 
the Oregon Trail along the Platte River in the Gold Rush of 1849. Alarmed at 
the increasing number of whites and the threat to their food supply, the Sioux 
and neighboring tribes of Cheyenne and Arapaho began raiding the wagon 
trains. The government then attempted to protect the overland trails by making 
a treaty which set boundaries to the territory claimed by the Teton-Dakota and 
other tribes. This treaty, signed at Fort Laramie, Wyoming, in 1851, prohibited 
trespass by whites on Indian territory but guaranteed emigrants safe passage 
through it. Neither side lived up to the agreement. There followed thirty years of 
violent but sporadic fighting and raiding which reached its peak jn the sixties 
and seventies. General Harney, who had begun a campaign against the Indians 
in 1855, finally secured a peace treaty with them in 1868. The government agreed 
to keep all whites from hunting or settling in Indian territory, to abandon the 
proposed trail from Fort Laramie to Bozeman, Montana, and the military posts 
along it, and to pay annuities for appropriated lands. In return, the Indians con- 
sented to settle on reservations. 

The Teton accepted the Great Sioux Reservation and received hunting privi- 
leges to the west. This reservation was bounded by lines on north, west, and south 
which became the state boundaries of South Dakota, and by the Missouri River 
on the east. The Teton released all claims to territory east of the Missouri. In 1869 
most of them moved into the Army-supervised agencies established within the 
- reservation, where a few friendly Indians had already been living for four or five 

In the following year war broke out again, occasioned by treaty violations by 
both Indians and whites. For several years hostile Indians came to and left the 

In the fall of 1875 many of the Indians were permitted to leave their reservations 
for a buffalo hunt in the Powder River country of Wyoming. But in the dead of 
winter they were asked to return. When they did not do so, because of the heavy 
snows and lack of sufficient food stores, they were declared hostile, and the Army 
was sent to force their return. Allied with warriors of other tribes, the Sioux met a 
detachment of the Army under Custer and defeated him at the Little Bis: Horn 

* o 

in Wyoming. But shortly thereafter they suffered their final military defeat, and 
the majority, including Red Cloud, war leader of the allied tribes, returned to the 
reservation. Several bands fled to Canada, but in the following year, Crazy Horse, 


a chief of the Oglala, returned from Canada to surrender. Four years later Gall 
and Sitting Bull followed him. 

In 1875, when reports of gold brought great pressure for white men to be let 
into the Black Hills, a government commission had drawn up a treaty for their 
cession, but the chiefs refused to sign. Nevertheless, the Army let thousands of 
impatient prospectors into the hills. In the peace settlement of the following year, 
some of the Teton-Dakota leaders relinquished their claim to the hills and the 
right to hunt west of the reservation line. The Teton have since claimed that the 
terms of this settlement were misrepresented to them and that not all the leaders 
of the bands knew of the action. 10 The loss of the hills has remained a controversy 
and a source of deep resentment among the Sioux to the present day. Suits against 
the United States government for compensation have been entered in the Court 
of Claims. 


For the Dakota the tragedies of 1876 and the few years that followed brought 
an end to armed resistance against the white man and the defense of their inde- 
pendence and territories. The buffalo were rapidly disappearing, and with them 
the chief source of food. The Dakota could not continue the fight against such 
overwhelming odds. 

Events which have had a lasting effect on the attitudes of the Teton followed in 
so rapid a succession that they brought spiritual defeat soon after the segregation 
on the reservation and the loss of the provider and symbol of life, the buffalo. In 
1881 the superintendent at Pine Ridge Agency forbade the continuance of the 
annual Sun Dance, the great tribal religious ceremony, after its performance 
during that summer. In 1882 the last great buffalo hunt was held; and in Novem- 
ber of the next year the last buffalo was killed by the Teton-Dakota. 

The Great Sioux Reservation was broken in 1889 into five separate Teton- 
Dakota reservations: Pine Ridge, Rosebud, Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, and 
Lower Brule. The Oglala and part of the Brule, who were finally settled on the 
Pine Ridge Reservation, had previously been placed at several agencies. At first 
they were located on the north fork of the Platte River not far from Laramie, then 
moved to the Whetstone Agency on the Missouri, then returned to the Red Cloud 
Agency on the Platte, not far from the pkce where the government had first 
quartered them. They were next moved to a pkce on the White River near Fort 
Robinson, Nebraska, and finally in 1878 to a site oh Big White Clay Creek selected 
by the Indians and named "Pine Ridge." 

The civilian superintendent appointed to take charge of the Pine Ridge Agency 
in 1879 11 immediately began a program of preparing the bands under his charge 
for the settled ways of white farmers. His suppression of the Sun Dance was only 
one step in directing the Indians away from their pagan and uncivilized ways. 


Breakup o camp life and the family groups of tepees, the undermining of the 
authority of the chiefs, and the placement of children in school followed in quick 
succession. The disappearance of the buffalo, the loss of the old ways, and the 
anticipation of new ones culminated in a feeling of frustration and resentment 
which drove a large proportion of the Dakota to attempt to rid themselves of the 
white man by supernatural means. The center of this resistance was on Pine 
Ridge, where it ended in the last Teton-Dakota combat with the United States 


In 1889 the Sioux heard of the Ghost Dance among the Indians in the western 
United States. It was prophesied that a messiah would appear, to destroy the 
white race and the evils which it had brought and to bring back the buffalo and 
the Indian dead, thus restoring the old life. A delegation from three Sioux reserva- 
tions was sent to Nevada to visit Wovoka, the prophet of this cult. 12 They 
returned with glowing but distorted accounts, and soon Indians on all the Dakota 
reservations were dancing the Ghost Dance in a frenzy. 

One great dance was held on White Cky Creek near the Pine Ridge Agency. 
As the bands gathered, the new successor to the first agent and the white settlers 
grew more and more uneasy. The ritual, which they mistook for a war dance, 
threw them into a panic, and they called for troops. Near Wounded Knee the 
cavalry, a part of Ouster's former regiment, came upon the Big Foot band on their 
way from another reservation to the Ghost Dance -camp to learn of the new mes- 
siah. As they were being disarmed, a shot was fired which fanned the smoldering 
fires of resentment among the Indians and the desire for revenge by the soldiers. 
In a savage attack the soldiers, armed with the Catling gun, killed 128 warriors 
and massacred many women and children who were fleeing from the scene. 

Commenting on the event forty years later, a Sioux remarked: "After the Battle 
of Wounded Knee all ambition was taken out of us. We have never since been 
able^to regain a foothold." 13 The tragedy brought to a sudden end the hopes of 
the Ghost Dancers. Wounded Knee drove home the impossibility of escape from 
white subjugation. 

The battle has remained in the minds of many Pine Ridge people as a symbol 
of .injustice and abuse at the hands of the white man. Survivors are still living, 
but the event is discussed only by younger people. A trader's large biflboard, "Site 
of the Massacre of Wounded Knee," helps to keep the memory fresh. 


Mekeel in his history of the Teton-Dakota marks the Ghost Dance and the 
Battle of Wounded Knee as the cad of one historical phase of Indian-white rela- 



tions, as seen from the Indian point of view. 14 From then to the present, he says, 
has been a period of "passive acceptance of white acculturation." 

The period of acculturation actually began with the Indians' acceptance of 
white material goods, received by trade with Indians to the east and with whites 
in the seventeenth century. It has already been noted that as early as 1865 some 
Teton-Dakota were already accepting the peaceful life which the whites offered at 
the agencies. At least as early as 1870 the military were encouraging the Indians 
to take up livestock-raising. 

The adoption of white life was also stimulated by missionary activities. In 1871 
the Episcopal church established a school at the Whetstone Agency. By 1888 the 
Jesuits came to the reservation and established both a mission and a school. 

In 1879, children of the Teton-Dakota had been sent east to the first nonreserva- 
tion government school for Indians at Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The agent at Pine 
Ridge obtained government funds to start a local school, which he opened in 1881. 

In all these activities there were some Indians who participated willingly. It 
appears, therefore, that the process of acculturation was functioning intensively 
among many of the Indians long before the Ghost Dance and Wounded Knee. 
These events brought to a close the last active tribal effort to combat white aggres- 
sors and also the decline of Indian resistance, but long before 1890 there had been 
a rising acceptance of white life. 

Three aspects of the dramatic period of change from Indian to white culture 
which followed are important to note: first, the suppression of Indian custom and 
authority; second, the education of the children in the techniques of white life; 
and, third, Agency and other white pressures upon the adults to adopt white ways 
of making a livelihood. 

The attempt to suppress native leadership and Indian social controls began 
under the agent who came to Pine Ridge in 1879. He had two particular powers 
by which he kept the Indians under his control: the ration issue of live beef and a 
police company of fifty Indians, which he organized with an Indian leader as chief 
of police responsible directly to him. These powers he utilized with no attempt at 
abuse to achieve the ends which he thought most desirable for the tribe. Only 
through the acceptance of stock-raising and settlement on farm tracts, he sincerely 
felt, could the Indian adjust to his new situation. However, like all people of his 
time, the agent also felt that this must be accompanied by a complete abandon- 
ment of Indian custom. Thus, when the Indians seemed to cling too tenaciously 
to camping by band groups, holding council by themselves, or being unco-opera- 
tive, he withheld rations or utilized the police to force a change. 

The agent, having control of the food supply and its distribution, as well as 
control over the Indians' personal freedom, held power with which the chiefs 
could not compete. All decisions had to be taken ultimately to him, and thus be- 


gan a paternalistic system 15 which brought the virtual elimination of the position 
of chief. The last man to be made a chief of the Oglala Sioux on Pine Ridge 
tersely states in his autobiography: "If I tried to better the conditions of my 
people, while on the reservation, I found it another impossibility. So I had to do 
one of two things keep my mouth shut or fight the agent all the time." 16 And 
so he left the reservation forever. 

The undermining of native controls and native leadership was followed later 
by official regulations which forbade native dances, ceremonies, and pagan cus- 
toms which were believed to impede the acceptance of white life. 17 These regula- 
tions were in force until 1934. 18 

The most effective means for cultural change lay in the education of the young 
people. Although the school established under the first agent at Pine Ridge got off 
to a bad start when the matron attempted to cut off the boys' long braids and thus 
threw the students into flight, the first classes soon had a large number of the chil- 
dren around the agency in attendance. 10 The formal school program was pat- 
terned after that of the schools in the East, but half the time was devoted to 
industrial training, agriculture, and housekeeping. 

Excerpts from the statement of educational policy for all Indian children at this 
time are enlightening. The policy was "to civilize," "to humanize," and "to put 
the children in boarding school where they will learn English" and "not relapse 
into their former moral and mental stupor." In connection with this statement, 
the federal superintendent of Indian schools in 1885 makes one remark which 
is highly significant in light of this study. "The Indian is the strangest compound 
of individualism and socialism run to seed. It is this being that we endeavor to 
make a member of a new social order .... to do this we must recreate him, 
mafe a new personality?* 

Children were virtually kidnaped to force them into government schools, their 
hair was cut, and their Indian clothes thrown away. They were forbidden to 
speak in their own language. Life in the school was under military discipline, and 
rules were enforced by corporal punishment. Those who persisted in clinging to 
their old ways and those who ran away and were recaptured were thrown into 
jail. Parents who objected were also jailed. Where possible, children were kept in 
school year after year to avoid the influence of their families. 

This policy began in the seventies and eighties and continued long after the 
Indians had made adjustments to reservation life. Physically enforced attendance 
at the schools and the use of corporal punishment, jails, and military drill con- 
tinued into the late 1920's but are no longer sanctioned by the Office of Indian 
Affairs. The official belief in "civilizing the Indian," as such, has passed, yet the 
motivation to make him in the likeness of the social and economic ideal of whites 
has by no mesas totally vanished from the picture. 


Accompanying the educational program for the children was a strong effort to 
have the adults establish permanent dwellings and undertake the running of 
cattle herds. This caused a radical innovation in the social organization of the 
Indians. When the Oglala and Brule subtribes the. two main groups on Pine 
Ridge came onto the reservation, they camped in a great circle about three miles 
from the Agency and then broke up into the smaller bands or large family camps. 
By establishing ration-issue stations and building homes for the band chiefs in 
different parts of the reservation, the Agency maneuvered most of the bands into 
settling in separate localities. After a short time the bands broke up, and the 
individual families spread along the creeks. Thus a great change was made from 
the old camp life, with families living at close quarters and under the direction 
of their chiefs, to a more isolated and independent type of family life. From 1900 
to 1917 this pattern of Indian homes separate from each other became crystallized 
by allotting individual tracts to all Indians. As many as could do so chose for their 
allotment the quarter section of land on which their home was located. 

In spreading along the creeks of the reservation, the Indian families built log 
cabins and established themselves on the land much like white rural families. 
Slowly each family also began to accumulate a small herd of cattle and horses. 
In the early years of settlement many families were content to live by government 
rations and to spend their time in idleness, gaming, community gatherings, or 
riding to other homes. In order to increase their efforts toward self-support, the 
Agency cut down the amount of rations. The Indians were also expected to earn 
their rations by working on a project to fence the reservation, 21 The reduction of 
rations and the requirement of work to stimulate industry on the part of the 
Indians came at the same time that the Great Sioux Reservation was broken up 
and large sections were set aside for white settlement. The chiefs opposed to 
co-operation with the government immediately took occasion to point out that all 
these actions were new proof of the government's lack of good faith and its 
intent to cheat the Indians. 

However, the process of accepting the white man's life continued to gain im- 
petus. Missionary work spread from Pine Ridge town into the new communi- 
ties, but it was many years before a large part of the population joined the 
churches. The government established small country schools in which the Indian 
children learned the three R's. After the turn of the century, the reservation popu- 
lation entered a long period of comparative calm, during which it became fairly 
well adjusted to a settled rural life and cattle-raising. 


The raising 0f cattle, which became the basic economy of the reservation, began 
in the 1870's, when, in keeping with the local economy, the military in charge of 


the Pine Ridge Agency began providing the Indians with cattle. They also pre- 
vailed upon the Indians to keep the cows from the cattle supplied for ration issues. 
Beginning in 1871, one animal on the hoof was included in each Indian's monthly 
ration. During the early part of this period, however, Indians were leaving the 
reservation to hunt buffalo, and a great number from Pine Ridge had become 
embroiled in the battles of 1876 with Custer and Crook. We cannot assume, there- 
fore, that all the Indians had become livestock owners or that those who owned 
cattle were livestock operators in the modern sense. They ran their cattle much 
as they ran their herds of ponies. However, an interest in cattle had been stimu- 
lated among those Indians who had accepted reservation life and wished to remain 
at peace with the white man. The first civilian superintendent, following the 
program initiated by the Army, issued cattle directly for the purpose of building 
up Indian cattle herds. He was greatly impressed and satisfied that the Indians 
kept the original issue and allowed the calves to mature. 22 According to official 
reports, there were 10,000 head of Indian cattle on the open range by 1885, and by 
1912 the Indian herds had increased to 40,000 head. 23 

The continued pursuit of stock-raising, however, interrupted by plans for 
other enterprises. The Allotment Act of 1887 had been passed on the assumption 
that, by allotting every Indian a tract of land, all of them would rapidly become 
civilized and self-sufficient farmers. Individual allotments were to be held in trust 
by the United States government for twenty-five years, in order to protect Indian 
interests. At the end of this period their competency to handle their own affairs 
would be passed upon; if the judgment was affirmative, title would be vested in 
the allottee in fee simple. The allotment of lands to the Pine Ridge Indians did not 
commence until about 1904. By 1916 the major portion of the reservation had been 
divided into tracts of 160 acres for each Indian regardless of age. 

Although allotments were not made on Pine Ridge during the nineteenth 
century, there was some pressure from private and government quarters in the 
East upon the Pine Ridge agents from 1890 to 1900 to promote dry farming. Dur- 
ing this period the Pine Ridge Indians suffered from various ill-advised actions of 
the Agency and from political schemes and fraud. 

In 1900 a new agent came to the reservation and remained for seventeen years. 
Under his direction Indian cattle operations gained fresh impetus which resulted 
in a good increase of the herds. The livestock practice of this era was that of the 
open range, of allowing the herds to move over the reservation ranges with little 
supervision. Each spring and fall great roundups were held, which were im- 
portant events to all the Indians. During these years the Pine Ridge Dakota 
became steeped in the life of the cowboy, his existence in the open, his dress, his 
skill with horses all of which would be extremely attractive to people who had 


been great horsemen and lived the life of the Plains Indians. Rations became so 
unnecessary by 1914, that they amounted only to token payments. 

With the beginning of World War I, cattle prices soared and the Indians were 
encouraged to sell their herds, and in 1916 nearly all the herds were sold off. Be- 
sides the attraction of high prices, there was pressure from white stockmen to 
have the Indians dispose of their cattle so that white cattle interests could lease 
the reservation ranges in these years of tremendous profits. Only one small lease 
of reservation land had been made to a white man in 1914, but by 1917 the large 
cattle operators had secured leases on nearly all the reservation. The remaining 
Indian cattle merged with the herds of the whites and were sold in the fall round- 
up. A new agent, who believed in leasing Indian lands, took charge in 1917. In the 
following year all the reservation lands went under control of whites and re- 
mained in their hands until 1921. 

The loss of their cattle herds was the greatest disaster that had befallen the 
Pine Ridge Indians since the vanishing of the buffalo. For a second time, the basis 
of their economy and the foundation on which their society rested were swept 
from beneath them. The full effect was not felt immediately. Although there was 
much fraud involved, the returns from the cattle sales created a sudden wealth in 
cash. The Indians indulged in an orgy of spending, for their cash income from 
high land rentals appeared to be endless. Feverishly they began buying the 
gadgets of civilization, especially automobiles. For these they traded their herds 
of horses, often twenty-five for a car. The Indians had always kept herds of horses 
on the reservation, and during the last years of their cattle sales, many had in- 
vested in fine-blooded horses to improve their stock. These horse herds now dis- 
appeared rapidly, and by 1930 there was left about one horse for each Indian. 24 

In 1921 began the postwar depression that forced many cattle operators to go 
out of business and default on their leases. Many Indians, now without cattle to 
sell, were hard hit by the sudden cessation of their income from leases. Then 
came the opportunity to sell the land. The Competency Commission arrived from 
Washington to arrange for handing over title to property formerly allotted to 
Indians. The sale of allotments thus became possible and was even encouraged by 
the Agency. In accordance with a policy established by the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs four years previously, only persons of one-half or less Indian blood were 
adjudged competent. Hence the holdings of many Dakota remained intact for 
some time, but pressure to sell increased. 

By the end of 1922 the agricultural market had recovered, and there began a 
feverish buying of Indian lands by land speculators and crop farmers. The gov- 
ernment, with little thought for the Indians' future, co-operated fully. The 
Agency placed notices of available lands in full-page newspaper advertisements. 
Again high ^prices encouraged the Indians to sell. Without cattle to run on their 


land, cashing in on their allotments appeared to be a profitable piece of business. 
Most of the Indians felt assured that they would always be able to live on the 
reservation and that there would always be lands of relatives to which they could 
move. There was much pressure from agents of land companies and land specu- 
lators, and not a little fraud in many of the dealings. An Indian might accept 
forty dollars and a new suit of clothes, believing it was a down payment, only to 
find later that he had signed his name or put his mark on a completed deed. 

The purchasers of the land were in the main promoters who were reselling it 
to midwestern farmers for the cultivation of flax, wheat, and other grain crops in 
the first dry farming to be practiced on the reservation. Although the great 
drought of the plains area began in 1924, it did not reach serious proportions until 
the 193Q's, and the white farmers on the reservation continued to be successful up 
to the financial crash of 1929. 

It was during these years that the little towns of Wanblee, Batesland, and Mar- 
tin flourished as marketing centers for the farming people. The white population 
continued to increase on the reservation, and their influence upon the habits of 
the Indians began to be discernible. Indians acquired a few milk cows, chickens, 
and small farm livestock. The success of the white farmers encouraged the gov- 
ernment to promote dry farming among the Indians. Seed and farm equipment 
were issued through a system of reimbursable loans. Thus a new economy was 
started on Pine Ridge; it proved to be both short-lived and disastrous. 


The drought and depression of the 193Q's wiped out almost the last of the white 
leases and the Indians* own efforts at dry farming or raising cattle. In one com- 
munity, in 1931, the average cash income for a family of five was $152.80. 25 From 
petty capitalists, which most of the population became after the sale of their cattle 
herds and the leasing or sale of their lands, they now became poverty-stricken 
dependents on charity* 

After a year of Red Cross and federal direct relief, the Indians were given wage 
work on relief projects. With the establishment of the Civilian Conservation 
Corps in 1933, special projects were set up for the employment of Indians on 
reservations. Since married men were enrolled in the Indian C.C.C., nearly all the 
able-bodied men on the Sioux reservation were on the government pay roll. Thus, 
as in some other very low income groups, the period of the depression was un- 
doubtedly one of hardship, but the average income of the population was greatly 
Increased. In the year 1939 the average individual income was $213.11, of which 
50 per cent was supplied as relief wages and payments and commodities dis- 
tributed by the federal government. 2 * The most lasting effect of this period has 
been die experience of nearly all the men in a wage-work economy. 


In the last seven years the government has attempted to re-establish the Indians 
in the cattle industry. After bitter experience the lesson has been definitely learned 
that this is the only permanent economy possible on the reservation lands. Yet 
re-establishing this economy has proved difficult. The problems arising from the 
inheritance of land, past sales of land within natural cattle ranges, the limitation 
of credit, and the greater attraction of relief wage work and recent wartime in- 
dustry have all hampered the development of cattle ownership. It has been neces- 
sary for Indians who start cattle operations to receive rations for a year or two to 
support their families until their herds begin yielding an income. 

In 1942 all C.C.C. work ended with the liquidation of the program. Thus many 
Indian families faced for the first time in almost a decade the problem of sup- 
porting themselves without wages or other assistance from the government. From 
one point of view, this has been a fortunate event for the future adjustment of the 
people, for they will never accept full responsibility for their own welfare until 
they meet and solve their own problems of making a living, but many dfsloca- 
tions and frustrations have accompanied the sudden change. Opportunities for 
defense work off the reservation had already attracted many men, particularly the 
former C.C.C. enrollees who had learned marketable skills. Other young men 
have gone into the military services, a career still exciting and highly attractive to 
the Sioux. Many of the families remaining on the reservation have received cattle 
on a repayment basis in a rehabilitation program directed by the Agency. The 
adjustment to this economy is far from completed as yet, but there are traditions 
of the past and values in both the old culture and the adopted "cowboy culture" 
that give promise of successful transition from one economy to another. 


1. John R. S wanton, "Siouan Tribes and the Ohio Valley,'* American Anthropologist, XLV (1943), 

2. George Hyde, Red Cloud's Fol\ (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1937), p. 3. 

3. Ibid., p. 6. 

4. Ibid., p. 17. A band, possibly Teton, was living on the east bank of the Missouri near the present 
site of Fairbanks, SJD., in 1743 (John C. Ewers, Teton Dakota Ethnology and History [rev. ed.j 
Berkeley, Calif.; U.S. National Park Service, 1938], p. 87). 

5. Ewers, op. cit. 

6. Hyde, op. tit., p. 17. Ewers gives this date as 1742 or earlier. 

7. Ewers (op. cit. t p. 87) gives this date as 1765. 

8. Hyde (op. cit., p. 10) infers that they had guns before 1700. This is doubtful. 

9. The Teton continued to use the bow and arrow to shoot buffalo after they acquired firearms, 
because the sound of the guns frightened the herds (Scudder Mekeel, personal correspondence). 

10. By the treaty of 1868, two-thirds of the Teton-Dakota were required to ratify any new agree- 
ments with the United States government. 

11. The first civilian agents to the Teton-Dakota were selected by the Episcopal church. This 
arrangement was in force from 1870 to 1876, when the Army took over the Great Sioux Reservation. 
In 1879 the Pine Ridge Agency was established and a civilian agent appointed without church spon- 
sorship. This agent may therefore rightly be termed the first civilian agent to the Pine Ridge Indians. 


12. Clark \Vissler, Xonh American Indians of the Plains (New York: American Museum of 
Natural History, 1934), p. 124. 

13. Robert Gessner, Massacre (New York: Cape & Smith, 1931), p. 417. 

14. Scudder Mekeel, "A Short History of the Teton-Dakota," North Dakota Historical Quarterly, X 
(1943), 139. 

15. The agent is still called "father" today. 

36. Luther Standing Bear, My People the Siou* (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1928), p. 277. 

17. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Report , 1904. 

18. U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, "Circular Letter 2970" (Washington, 1934). 

19. Julia B. McGillycuddy, McGillycuddy Agent (Stanford University, Calif.: Stanford University 
Press, 1941), p. 205. ' 

20. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Annual Report of the Commissioner, 1885. (Italics mine.) 

21. Standing Bear, op. a'/., p. 242. 

22. Allan Hulsizer, Region and Culture in the Curriculum of the Navaho and the Dakota (Federals- 
burg, Md.: J. W. Stowell Co., 1940), p. 48. 

23. Ibid. 

24. W. O. Roberts, personal correspondence. 

25. Scudder Mekeel, The Economy of a Modern Teton Dakota Community (New Haven, Conn.: 
Yale University Press, 1936), p. 9. 

26. US. Office of Indian Affairs, "Statement of Relief and Government Provided for Indians, 



ccc ccc gc- c ceo 

IN TRACING the history of the Dakota, their economic adaptation through the 
development of a livestock industry and the actions of the government which 
upset this adaptation have been described in terms of local events on the 
reservation. The economic history of the Pine Ridge Indians cannot be con- 
sidered, however, as an isolated development. The local drama of economic 
changes and misfortunes was part of national movements and the settling of the 
West; it should be seen against the total setting of the history of the plains area. 
It should also be appreciated that the changes which occurred were due to more 
than the whims of government administration. 

The history of the white man on the plains has been a story of exploitation of 
the land, for which he has paid dearly in money, in social chaos, and in personal 
insecurity. It was unavoidable that the Dakota in the midst of this area should also 
be affected. The exploitation and climatic changes which occurred in the plains 
area are still affecting the making of a living on the reservation. 


Nature has been the primary determinant of how the resources of the plains 
must be used by man if he wishes to remain there permanently. The climate is 
characterized by heavy snows and extreme cold in winter and cloudless, burning 
skies and extreme heat in summer. High winds blow across this country at all 
seasons, bringing sudden changes in temperature and severe storms. Average 
rainfall is twenty inches, but the amount varies greatly from year to year. Accom- 
panying this great variation are cycles of dry and wet years, which bring periods 
when wresting a livelihood from the land becomes highly precarious. Knowledge 
of the sequence of these cycles has come only in recent years with studies stimu- 
lated by the appearance of the Great Dust Bowl 1 

The settlement of the plains began during a wet cycle, when cattlemen started 
operations in the southern plains. They soon began moving their herds north until 
they reached the Dakotas, which became the terminus of the cattle trails. This 
movement began the exploitation of the northern plains. By 1890 the ranges of all 



the plains were probably fully stocked; by 1934 they were 100 per cent over- 
stocked. 2 Overgrazing left the soil exposed to erosion by the high winds. 

Coverage was further depleted by the plows of the farmers who followed close 
after the cattlemen. The first farming, in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, 
met with great success, for in nearly every year the rainfall was plentiful. This 
was the period of great westward movement of population, induced by success- 
ful crop reports and the land advertisements of speculators and railroads. The 
introduction of farm machinery, which permitted the cultivation of far greater 
acreages, brought another expansion of dry farming on the plains about 1910. 

Then came the inflation of wheat prices during World War I. Dry farms spread 
like prairie fires, and vast acreages of grassland were plowed. Although this 
reduced the cattle ranges, the herds were increased to meet wartime demands for 
food supplies rather than decreased. 

Economic collapse in 1921 and 1922 broke both the farming and the cattle 
industries momentarily, but the exploitation of the soil continued. In 1924 began 
the great drought, which reached its climax in the thirties. The damage to the 
land from plowing and overgrazing had already been done. When the remaining 
coverage failed from the lack of rain, the high winds swept down the plains and 
blew the soil away. 

As noted in chapter ii, after the first years of settling down to the new reserva- 
tion life, the Pine Ridge Dakota made a good adjustment to a cattle economy. 
From the reports of individual Indians, it appears that on the whole the people 
were also making a good social and personal adjustment. The early development 
of farming among the whites outside the reservation does not appear to have 
affected the livelihood and economic practices of the Indians greatly, but the re- 
surgence of dry farming about 1910 had a direct effect upon the reservation. Most 
of the Pine Ridge Indians had received allotments by this time, but the remaining 
large areas of unallotted land were now declared surplus by the government. 
In 1911 the southeast quarter of the reservation, where only a small part of the 
good farming land had been allotted, was opened up to homesteaders. This sec- 
tion is now Bennett County. The homesteaders were kept out of the remaining 
portion of the reservation, but the fact that lands were again being taken away for 
the white man stirred the anxieties of the Indians. 

This anxiety was increased by the leasing of the reservation ranges by white 
cattlemen after 1916 and by the sale and leasing of allotments to wheat farmers in 
the heretofore restricted counties. The alienation of Indian lands continued 
through the onset of the depression and the great drought^ when white farmers 
began to withdraw from the reservation. It ended with the enactment of the 
Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. 

Fortunately, the reservation land which was leased to white farmers or broken 


up by Indians for dry farming was not exploited and plowed up beyond the point 
of recovery by natural processes. 3 In a few districts severe erosion did take place, 
but for the most part enough vegetative cover was left to retain the soil. Since the 
drought, the natural grass has returned, and the future of the land as cattle range 
seems assured. 


The range land is the principal resource of the reservation. The economic pro- 
gram sponsored by the Agency and the Tribal Council since 1937 has utilized it 
by the raising of livestock. In 1943 the Indians owned and operated over 22,300 
head of cattle. 4 

The herds of horses also grazing on the Dakota range about 9,000 in 1942 
form a very small economic asset. In the nomadic days horses were very important 
to the Sioux both for hunting and warfare and for the prestige which they 
brought to the owner. Today fewer horses are necessary for farm work and for 
travel; their chief value lies in the prestige and pleasure they give, for most of them 
are economically unnecessary and commercially valueless. Furthermore, they 
utilize good pasturage which could be more productively used by cattle. Good 
horses are, however, necessary for cattle herding, and in recent years stallions of 
Morgan and other strains have been introduced through the Agency to raise the 
quality of the horses for Livestock work. This improvement among the horse 
herds should create a new market product for the Indians. 

Various crops are produced on sections of the reservation not used for range. 
On some land wild hay is grown as supplemental forage for cattle and horses. 
Only 12 per cent of the Indian-owned reservation land is suitable for the raising 
of wheat, corn, and other grain crops. 5 Hence grain farming will always remain a . 
small part of the Indians' agricultural enterprises. In the past few years the gov- 
ernment has developed two large irrigation projects which will increase the 
amount of food raised for home use. All Indians are. encouraged to raise small 
subsistence gardens, using the soil in the creek bottoms to which water can be 
pumped. Cultivation of gardens and the canning of food have increased tre- 
mendously in the past few years with the return of sufficient rainfall and favorable 
summer weather. 


The majority of Pine Ridge families have not yet become self-sufficient through 
the utilization of their land resources. For many, in recent years, it has been neces- 
sary to receive rations until their cattle begin to yield an income. Others have had 
to undertake some form of wage work for part of the year in order to earn money 
for the bare essentials of living. Many families work on the ranches and in the 


potato and corn fields of the white farmers outside the reservation. This practice 
became extensive during the 1920's, when many of the Indians had no other work 
and received an insufficient income from the lease of their allotments. 

With the current increased demand for farm labor, more Indians have become 
farm workers than at any other time in their history. 6 Sugar-beet growers of South 
Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado are sending labor recruiters into the 
reservation and taking Indian workers and their families to the fields by busses. 
This new type of agricultural work gives Indian families employment from early 
summer through the late fall harvesting season. With the great increase of wage 
rates, they are finding farm work a profitable occupation, particularly since the 
whole family works in the fields. Even those who have gardens and large potato 
or corn fields at home go out to work and return for a short time in the fall to do 
their own harvesting. 

The recent development of military air fields and ammunition depots at Rapid 
City and other towns near the reservation has provided another new opportunity 
for wage work. Many men who have not gone into the armed forces have found 
employment in these construction centers. Those who received training in han- 
dling machinery, laying cement, carpentry, and the like in the reservation C.C.C. 
projects before the war were well prepared to enter this work at high wages. 7 
There has also been much demand for unskilled labor, which has offered em- 
ployment for all Indians who needed it. Although most of the Indian war workers 
have gone to the areas near the reservation, many of the younger men have gone 
to the shipyards on the West Coast, to the factories in Chicago and Detroit, and to 
construction work in many parts of the country. Young girls have gone in groups 
as far as Washington and Oregon to work in the dining-halls of the shipyards. 
One effect of entering these new fields of work has been to give the Dakota a 
feeling of being wanted and needed in white society and an experience of living 
in close association with whites, although this experience has not always been 
successful or happy. 8 Marry Dakota worked off the reservation during the last 
war, but they did not leave in such large numbers or enter so many different and 
highly skilled types of labor. Most of the present war workers are receiving the 
highest incomes and enjoying the best food, clothes, and living conditions in their 

Another effect of this new employment has been the withdrawal from, or the 
postponement of, participation in the agricultural economy of the reservation on 
the part of many families. By its higher and immediate returns, war work has 
been more attractive than a small cattle herd. Since the wartime employment is 
not expected to be permanent, it can be anticipated that most of those how at work 
off the reservation will return in a few years to face a new economic readjustment. 
Probably few of them will have savings to invest in a small cattle herd or farm, 


: - 4u&!* j . tfplitegj, A*U, MO. 



for reports and observations in 1942 and 1943 indicated that many were spending 
all they earned and were intermittently employed. There have been difficulties of 
adjustment to the requirements of war employment, the new living conditions, 
and the layoffs at the end of construction projects. Many workers have already 
returned to the reservation, exhausted their funds in travel or at home, and sub- 
sequently departed for another job. 

For those who have remained on the reservation, there has been a small amount 
of wage work. The Agency offers some wage work to Indians for maintenance, 
building roads, and driving school busses, but this work has been at a minimum 
in 1942 and 1943, because of the sharp decrease in appropriations to the Indian 

Some Indians still receive an income from the leasing of their allotments and 
inherited lands to other Indians and white farmers. Their number is small, and 
the income is seldom sufficient to maintain a family. 

The sale of native craft articles has always brought a small income to a few fam- 
ilies. At the instigation of the Education Division of the Indian Service, the 
Dakota are reviving the manufacture of beaded buckskin articles and learning 
to make pottery and weave cloth, which should in time add to the income from 


In accordance with treaty agreements by which the Indians ceded lands, each 
Dakota boy and girl of eighteen receives a gift from the Sioux Benefit Fund for 
assistance in establishing a farm enterprise or a home. 9 In recent years the 
individual payment has been about five hundred dollars. The recipient was re- 
quired to make a budget of needs for starting out in life. The requests were us- 
ually for cattle, horses, saddles, clothing, household furniture, a stove, wagon, or 
farming equipment. Occasionally the benefit allotment was used for advanced or 
vocational education. 

The issuance of rations, originally made to all Indians in accordance with treaty 
terms, is now limited to families in actual need. 10 All able-bodied family heads 
are expected to perform some work in return for this food. Thus ration issue has 
become a form of relief work. The Indians, however, do not regard rations as 
relief but as rights established by treaty. 

The needy who are sixty-five years old or over are entitled to old age assistance 
payments from the state of South Dakota. Since most of the old people have no 
source of income except small returns from leased land, the old age payments are 
an important part of reservation income. Aid to the blind and aid to dependent 
children, also administered by the state, are other sources of income to the Pine 
Ridge Indians. 


The Dakota receive other aids which relieve them of many expenses and make 
their low annual income not quite so inadequate as the figures by themselves 
imply. Younger children at school receive clothing in exchange for their parents' 
work. All day-school children receive a noon meal, and those at the boarding 
school receive full care, relieving their families of nearly all expense for them 
during eight months of the year. Hospitalization and the services of doctors, 
dentists, and field nurses are provided by the Health Division of the Indian 
Service. Living on federal trust land releases the Dakota from any land tax 
obligation, but the state taxes owners of fee-patented allotments. 


The pursuits and time devoted to various fields of labor vary so widely that 
statistics can be considered only general estimates in presenting the picture of fam- 
ily income. The mean family income on Pine Ridge for 1942 was $457.90. 11 As 
noted in chapter ii, this is a great increase over the early depression years, when 
average family income in one community (neither the poorest nor wealthiest on 
the reservation) was $152.80. The increase in income over the ten-year period is 
primarily due to wage work, but the cattle industry has also contributed sub- 

Despite this increase and allowing for the provision of various services by the 
government, incomes on the reservation are still very low. Total income of in- 
dividuals in 1942, as reported by the Office of Indian Affairs, was $1,029,823, or 
about $120 per capita. 12 For the state of South Dakota in the same year, the per 
capita income was $725. 1S Even allowing for the fact that the state figure includes 
urban families and for the general difference in living costs, the Indian income is 
very low. In Mississippi, which ranked lowest of all states in 1942 and where 
income of the Negro group pulls down the average, per capita income was $407. 14 
The mean family income of about $458 for Pine Ridge in 1940 may be compared 
with the average gross value of products produced on farms in the neighboring 
nonreservation counties in 1940, which ranged from $837 to $1,063. 15 Both types of 
comparison are, of course, very rough indeed, but in spite of probable errors the 
wide difference between Indian and white income is strikingly apparent. 

Analysis of the total income for Pine Ridge in 1942 shows that, of the total 
reservation income, 60 per cent was earned and 40 per cent unearned. 16 The 
largest single item was for wages, 43 per cent of the total; second, relief payments 
in cash or expended relief commodities, 25 per cent; third, agricultural receipts 
(predominantly from livestock and livestock products), 16 per cent; fourth, 
receipts from leased lands and tribal payments, 14 per cent; and miscellaneous, 2 % 
per cent. 17 The C.C.C. wages were stopped on July 1, 1942, and many of the 
relief wage-workers went off the reservation for employment. The amount earned 


and the number of workers in farm and industrial labor will undoubtedly increase 
as high wages and the demand for workers continue under war conditions. 
Labor then must be regarded as one of the great resources of the reservation. The 
importance of this fact to the adjustment of Indians to changing social conditions 
must not be underestimated. 

The sources of income of Pine Ridge Dakota are highly significant. When the 
preceding figures are resolved into categories of income derived from government 
sources, reservation resources, and private or non-Indian sources, the present 
extent of dependency upon the government becomes apparent. From all govern- 
ment sources, including wages and federal and state relief, the Pine Ridge Indians 
received 52 per cent of their income in 1942. From the resources of the reservation, 
including livestock and farming enterprises, individual leasing of land, timber 
sales, and annuities, the Pine Ridge people received 29 per cent of their income. 
From wages paid by non-Indian employers, the great majority being outside the 
reservation, the Pine Ridge Indians received 19 per cent of their income. 

These figures should change significantly for 1943 and 1944, with the liquida- 
tion of the C.C.C. and the increase of Indian employment in industrial centers. 
Nevertheless, the figures reveal the supporting cushion that government opera- 
tions and aid create in the economic adjustment of the Indians. Furthermore, in 
the present Pine Ridge economy less than one-third of all income now comes 
from the land resources, and wage work has become the most available and 
desirable single form of making a living. For a population living in a strictly rural 
area, where opportunities for industrial and agricultural wage work are normally 
very limited or irregular, a satisfactory permanent economic adjustment based on 
wage work becomes problematical. 


1. Great Plains Committee, The future of the Great Plains (Washington: Government Printing 
Office, 1936), p. 3. 

2. Ib'id., p. 4. 

3. U.S. Soil Conservation Service, "Reconnaissance Survey of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, 
South Dakota" (Denver, Colo.: Technical Cooperation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, 1938), p. 7. 

4. US. Office of Indian Affairs, "Reservation Program, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation" (1944), 
p. 11. (Mimeographed.) 

5. Ibid., p. 7. 

6. See John Useem, Gordon Macgregor, and Ruth Useem, "Wartime Employment and Cultural 
Adjustments of the Rosebud Sioux," Allied Anthropology, II (1943), 1. 

7. The C.C.C. project employment was the first experience of wage work for most families on the 
reservation (see chap. ii). 

8. The adjustment of Dakota in towns and cities is described in chap. xi. 

9. Granted originally with an allotment of land by the Act of 1889, which stipulated two cows, 
two oxen or horses, harness, farm equipment, and the like for every head of a family or single person 
eighteen or more years old. These payments have been continued to all persons on reaching their 
eighteenth birthday, under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. When the remaining surplus land 
on which technical allotments are being made is exhausted, Sioux Benefit Fund payments will end. 


These allotments are made to cover legal requirements and are an exception to the general policy of 
the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. 

10. Beginning in 1944, the year after this study was made, rations were no longer issued in kind 
but through purchase orders on local merchants. 

11. U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Individual Income, Resident Population, 1942 (Washington, 
1943), Table D. 

12. Ibid., Table A. 

13. Daniel Creamer and Charles F. Schwartz, "State Income Payments in 1942," Survey of Current 
Business, XXII (1943), 11. 

14. Ibid. 

15. U.S. Census, 1940, Agriculture, Vol. II. Part I, pp. 727-33, and Housing, Vol. II, Part V, pp. 124- 
37. Neighboring nonreservation counties are Bennett, Jackson, Jones, and Mellette. Value of gross 
product was used rather than net farm income, since the former includes the value of products used 
on the farm, and food produced at home is important "income" to Indians. Number of farm dwellings 
was used as a base, rather than number of farms or number of farms reporting, since many farm 
dwellings are occupied by families of laborers whose status is comparable to that of many Indians. If 
number of farms reporting were used as a base, average product per farm for neighboring non- 
reservation counties would range from $1,181 to $1,367. 

16. U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Individual Income, Resident Population, 1942, Table D. 

17. The income received from wages requires some qualifications, for it includes wages from 
regular and irregular Agency pay rolls, work-relief projects, and private or non-Indian employment. 
The last item was roughly estimated, as there was no way to check the amount earned from all farm, 
industrial, and war-project employment. 


f y> UNDERSTAND the social and cultural position and the behavior and attitudes 

I of the Pine Ridge Indians, it is necessary to know in some detail the former 

JL family and tribal organization from which the present reservation society 

has developed. The social organization of the Teton-Dakota changed after they 

came onto the plains and never became thoroughly stabilized. Roaming bands 

and family groups changed their allegiances to the larger divisions at will; and, 

at the beginning of the reservation era, leaders sprang up to create new bands, 

adding confusion to the limited picture we have of the old social structure. 

Historical records and information gained from old men on the reservation at 
the beginning of the twentieth century indicate that the Teton-Dakota society was 
probably organized somewhat as follows. 1 The fundamental social unit was the 
biological family, but the family always lived with from ten to twenty related 
families in a small band or tiyofyaye. The band formed an extended bilateral 
family or group of people related by blood and reckoning descent through both 
the male and the female lines. The main biological family of the tiyosfaye was 
that of the chief, and all other families were related to it. In the old bands the 
families were usually related through the male line, for men commonly brought 
their wives from other bands to their family group. Occasionally the band in- 
cluded other families who joined either to escape some unpleasant social pressure 
or to become the followers of a renowned warrior. There were also larger bands 
of related and unrelated extended families, which maintained social unity the 
year round. 

The bands customarily camped separately during the wintertime, but late each 
spring groups of bands joined in a camp circle or encampment for their annual 
religious ceremonial, the Sun Dance, and for the co-operative buffalo hunts. War 
parties were made up from men of one or several summer encampments. Each 
band camped in its assigned section of the circle, the band with the leading chief 
of the encampment pitching their tepees in the section opposite the camp en- 
trance. The encampments are not always defined in descriptions of Dakota social 
organization because they were not permanent the year round and were con- 



stantly shifting in band membership. This was particularly true o the period of 
Indian wars with the United States Army and the first settlement at the agencies. 
The encampments are also confused in historical literature with the smaller bands 
and sometimes with the larger subtribes. 

The subtribe was one of the traditional divisions of the Teton-Dakota tribe. In 
their eastern homeland in Minnesota it is supposed that the seven subtribes of the 
Teton-Dakota (Oglala, Brule, Sans Arcs, Minneconjou, Two Kettles, Hunkpapa, 
Blackfeet) once lived together, possibly as seven gentes of an original tribe. By the 
time the Teton-Dakota became dominant on the plains of South Dakota and 
Wyoming, the seven subtribes were independent of each other. This was partic- 
ularly true of the Oglala and the Brule, each of which was later split into two 
divisions. 2 The organization of the subtribes became more confused during the 
historical period when bands and encampments from one or another joined to- 
gether in defense or to make war against the United States Army and later settled, 
regardless of their origin, at the first agencies. 

Today there is no tribal organization of the Teton-Dakota, and the subtribes 
and odd bands settled on the reservations have become new tribes or social 
groups. For example, the Oglala and Brule and families from other Dakota sub- 
tribes who came into the last Red Cloud Agency and were moved to Pine Ridge 3 
have now become the Pine Ridge Indians. The tiyospaye is the only social unit 
particularly characteristic of the former Teton-Dakota social structure which has 
remained important in the reservation society. 

The Teton had a governmental organization, which was developed only among 
the encampments. The political pattern of one Oglala group was organized in 
the following manner. 4 The main political body was the Chiefs' Society composed 
of the heads and leaders, forty years of age or older, who elected their own 
members. This society elected the Seven Chiefs of the Tribe, who held office for 
life. The position was partially hereditary, as it was the practice to elect a son or 
.younger relative to fill the vacancy of a deceased chief. These seven chiefs ap- 
pointed the Four Shirt Wearers, the real councilors of the division, who also held 
office for life but could resign their position. 

Four executive officers of the encampment, the wakicun, were also appointed 
by the Seven Chiefs of the Tribe to hold office for a year. It was the particular 
function of this group to organize and control the camp. 

The four wakjcun selected two messengers, a herald, and two afycita, or head 
police, who in turn selected two others to serve with them. The obicita selected a 
body of police, or designated a group in one of the men's societies* to serve as such, 
to keep order in the camp. These police had much authority and disciplined 
severely those who upset camp life, even to killing a murderer. On the buffalo 


hunt this group kept the hunters in order, so that no greedy or overexcited person 
would run in and stampede the herd. 

In each encampment were men's societies, one group from which the police 
were selected, a second group to which headmen belonged, and a third group of 
warriors. New members were elected by each society in a secret meeting, and one 
man might belong to several. Membership in these societies was one means of re- 
warding the brave in battle and the co-operative in camp life. A second function 
of the societies was the distribution of property by which members honored others 
and helped the aged and unfortunate. 

This social organization was democratic in that all heads of family groups par- 
ticipated in the council and in the annual election of camp officers. There is some 
evidence to show that the four watyctm were the original heads of the encamp- 
ment and that the great war chiefs were a development that came after the first 
contacts with whites in the eighteenth century. Men like Red Cloud, who achieved 
a great reputation during the fighting with the whites in the middle of the nine- 
teenth century, were classed as "chiefs," although originally within the encamp- 
ment organization they were only warriors who became temporary leaders during 


An understanding of the organization and functioning of the biological and 
extended families and the modern communities rests upon a full understanding 
of the kinship system, which dictates relationships and the mode of social behavior 
between individuals of the society and thus has an important part in developing 
the social character of the individual. 5 to the Teton-Dakota, social relationships 
were and are the most important thing "in life, a value which is held by many 
people in white society but is frequently overshadowed by the importance of ma- 
terial things. Expressing proper social relationships, kindness, friendliness, and 
considerateness 6 is the chief source of happiness of the Dakota and the means of 
feeling that they belong and are accepted in their group. The individual learns 
his relationships to other people, and the behavior he is expected to show to them, 
in the home. 

Relatives are classified according to their generation, regardless of whether they 
are related through the father's or the mother's line. Collateral and lineal relatives 
are also classed together; for example, the father's brother is called "father" and 
the mother's sister is called "mother." When the relative is of another sex than the 
person through whom he is related, the kinship term signifies this fact: the 
father's brother is called "father," but the mother's brother is spoken of by another 
term. Children of father's brothers and mother's sisters are called "brothers" and 
"sisters," but those of father's sisters and mother's brothers are given different 


terms, which may be freely translated as "cousins." Children of brothers and 
sisters (in the Dakota sense) are sons and daughters, and children of "cousins" 
are "nephews" and "nieces." All the grandparent generations on both sides are 
merged together, with only difference in sex designated in the kinship terminol- 
The basis of relationships and social interaction within the kinship system was 

and is respect. The forms of showing respect have changed, but the essential prin- 
ciple is the same. In the old days the expression of respect varied according to the 
type of relationship one held to another individual. Thus toward one's blood 
brothers and those who became blood brothers through ceremonial adoption, 
respect was shown in affection and in complete loyalty on all occasions. Respect 
heightened by filial devotion marked the behavior extended to one's parents, their 
brothers and sisters, and one's grandparents. The respect shown between brother 
and sister was observed by complete avoidance of all face-to-face relations, a 
practice which was one Dakota method of preventing incest. Respect was posi- 
tively shown by a brother in giving to his sister his best war trophies, and by a 
sister in making moccasins for her brother and the cradle-packs for his children. 

Toward one's mate, sexual love and respect were natural and expected. Sexual 
love of a man for his sister-in-law and of a woman for her brother-in-law was 
acceptable because no blood relationship existed between them. In the old society 
it was therefore considered proper for a man to marry his wife's sisters or his 
brothers' widows even though he already had a wife, but love of and marriage to 
one individual were considered more virtuous. Known cases of a man's marrying 
several sisters were in the minority. Yet because an individual could consider 
brothers-in-law or sisters-in-law potential mates, there was always the possibility 
of sexual tension and sexual relationships. The kinship system offered some re- 
lease for this by permitting a joking relationship which included jokes about sex 
between brothers- and sisters-in-law. 

The relationship between brothers-in-law also brought potential conflict because 
of the differences in their attitudes toward the woman through whom they were 
related. One behaved with great respect and avoided anything suggestive of sex 
toward the woman, as a sister, whereas the other enjoyed intimate relations with 
her as his wife. This conflict was also released through camaraderie and joking 
in which brothers-in-law were expected to participate, especially in public. 

A man's attitude toward his parents-in-law was one o extreme respect, which 
became complete avoidance in relation to his mother-in-law because the two in- 
dividuals concerned were of different generation and sex and because the nature 
of their relationships to the wife differed. A woman observed corresponding 
forms of behavior toward her male and female in-laws. 

The actual behavior of relatives today has been greatly modified by the changed 


economy and social life and the influences o the white social system. The modifi- 
cation seems to be toward the behavior pattern of the white family; but the Indian 
pattern has not been completely abandoned, and it gives insight into the con- 
temporary social structure on Pine Ridge. 


The biological family of father, mother, and children merged with the ex- 
tended family group with which it lived, hunted, and shared its food and social 
life. It was not the exclusively important group, as it is regarded usually by white 
people. Today, however, the individual family has risen in importance, largely 
because it has become the essential economic unit in the livestock, farming, and 
wage-work economies which the Pine Ridge Indians have successively followed 
on the reservation. The individual family was also forced into greater importance 
because of the white man's administration, which dealt directly with these units 
following the concept of white social organization. Although cattle and land 
were issued to individuals, it was expected that they would be operated and 
utilized by the biological family. 

The family now lives with greater independence of related families in its own 
farm home. The father, as head of the family, is usually its chief support, but, as 
noted in previous chapters, his work is often irregular and not usually devoted 
to a single occupation. The circumstances which have made it impossible for the 
men to work steadily as cattlemen or farm laborers or to produce a regular 
income have affected their status and respect within their own families. Fre- 
quently it has been necessary for the mothers to earn wages to keep the family fed 
and clothed. This has increased the importance of the mother in the family, a 
change which has altered the children's relationships to both parents. The new 
relationships are particularly apparent in the present training of the children in 
the home and development of children's personalities which are to be described 
in detail in following parts of the study. 

The ideal parent-child relationship among the Dakota is and always has been 
one of deep-seated affection; the small child is granted almost complete indul- 
gence, which develops in him an affectionate loyalty to the parents. From an early 
age, the parents regard the child as an individual with responsibility for his own 
actions and in return they demand from him much co-operation. Most training 
is accomplished by rewarding the child for doing the desired thing. 

As the child grows older, his parents' respect for his individuality and his 
responsibility to himself increases. 7 Mothers plead with fairly young children to 
give up school for a few days and go to a dance with them. The respect for the 
child's independence and decisions is most marked. Mothers say: "I ask her 
opinion.*' "You know she is eighteen years old and a woman of her own. If she 


don't go back to school, I can't help it." "I didn't because my boy didn't want 
me to." 

Formerly the father assumed some of the training and disciplining of the boys, 
which was the basis of an intimate bond. This most important relationship be- 
tween father and son developing from the training of a boy for his economic 
and social role has been badly dislocated by cultural changes. Compared to their 
position in the former nomadic life, the majority of fathers have no career aijd 
little social role to which they can introduce a son. A man may have a small herd 
of cattle or horses which a boy learns to care for early in his life, but there are 
now few special techniques which the father can pass on to his son. By the time a 
boy is fourteen or fifteen he can compete with his father as a common wage- 
earner. The father's role of teacher has been minimized not only by the disappear- 
ance of the men's former occupations and goals in life but also by the introduction 
of schools among the Dakota. Even the fathers who do not desire the white man's 
life for themselves appreciate the fact that it will be to their children's advantage 
to understand this way of living. They want the school to give their children such 
understanding and send them to school with this expectation. 

The boy growing up in a Dakota family today does not appreciate the differ- 
ence in the relationship that exists between his father and himself and that which 
existed between his great-grandfather and grandfather. He does, however, become 
aware of his father's lack of a continuous occupation and of the absence of a real 
career in which his father and the men of his community might offer him some 
participation. They have given him social drives, but modern Indian society offers 
little reward that produces a feeling of achievement. He has been pushed to early 
adulthood. Arriving at its threshold, he finds himself on an equal footing with 
the men of his community but, like them, without status or life-purpose. 

The mother is the center of the present-day family, because she has assumed 
greater responsibility for its direction and support. The mother's role has also 
gained by the present isolation of the individual household. Formerly the family 
lived in a camp with several other related families, with whom the child associated 
freely. Now the child living in a farmhouse on an allotment is forced to spend 
much more time with his own family and especially with his mother. One small 
full-blood boy described very aptly the mother's position in the family by pointing 
to an ear of corn which had six small kernels sprouting from one end, "Mother, 
the ear o corn is like you, and the little things are the children." 

The early attachment to the mother often becomes so strong that it is carried 
through adulthood. One man states, "My son gets lonesome when he is away 
from his mother." "My wife is that way, too," he adds complainingly; "she does 


not like to live away from her folks. I have a nice place, but she is like a sucking 
colt to stay so close to her mother." Mother-daughter relationship is commonly a 
very lasting one, and, after marriage, the daughter is constantly returning home 
to visit, to have her babies, or to help her mother in emergencies. 

Although the observed mother-child relationships appear in general to be very 
pleasant and close to the ideal of affection and respect, there are mothers whose 
relationships to their children are bad according to Dakota standards and those of 
gpod mental hygiene as well. Observers in this study heard mothers call their 
children "dumb," "crazy," or a "crybaby." One mother had to be stopped by the 
school principal from beating her child with her fists, because she heard that a 
teacher called the child "Public Enemy No. 1." Enraged little boys were also 
seen striking their mothers. 

There are other mothers who appear indifferent toward their childen. Two 
small childen were found who did not know their mother, although they lived at 
their grandmother's home less than five miles away from her. Some mothers 
have deserted their husbands and children to live with other men. On the other 
hand, children who find relationships with their mothers intolerable run away to 
live with other relatives. Children were permitted to leave their tepees in the 
old days, but such behavior in the old culture was considered a great affront to the 
parent's reputation. 8 The frequency with which children are now voluntarily 
living away from their parents' home without disapproval by the adults may be 
looked upon as symptomatic of cultural breakdown. 

The stepmother has now entered the Teton-Dakota kinship system as -an 
important factor. In the former society where it was the practice to marry one's 
wife's sisters, children whose mother had died found someone, whom they already 
called mother, ready to take the real mother's place. Plural marriage and the 
ctistom of marrying the deceased wife's sisters are no longer common practice. 
Today stepmothers are often strange and unrelated to the children, and the rela- 
tionships between them are not always happy ones. The stereotyped attitude to- 
ward the stepmother in white society is being accepted by some Dakota. One 
woman said to an interviewer in this study, "Stepmothers are supposed to be 
mean." Although some stepmothers have proved to be very affectionate, it is 
quite common among older children to go to the home of an aunt or grand- 
mother or leave the reservation when a stepmother enters the home. Very often, a 
family attempts to solve the friction by sending the children to a boarding school. 

In cases of separation from their wives, fathers often seem particularly indiffer- 
ent about their children, leaving them for the wife or grandparents to support, 
without regard for the wife's or grandmother's ability to do so. In leaving the 
children with the wife, the fathers are following customary practice, but in the 


past there were the wife's relatives and the families of her band circle to help feed 
a few more mouths. 

The relationship between brothers has been described as the strongest in the 
Teton-Dakota kinship system. 9 This is still manifest, and brothers are close com- 
rades and playmates. 10 In the former life the older brother undertook the training 
of the younger in many of the technical skills of men. Brothers today retain their 
close attachment throughout life, helping one another in the fields, sharing food, 
and bringing their children to one another's homes. In a crisis brothers join forces 
as they did in the past. One Indian stockman said, "If I have trouble with some- 
body, then all my brothers here would come to help me, and there would be 
big trouble." 

The relationship between sisters has always been similar to that between 
brothers. If sisters live in the same community, they usually maintain an intimate 
friendship all their lives. The strongest devotion is expressed by accepting the 
care of the other's children, particularly at the death of one sister. Sisters, like 
brothers, are close playmates where the age differences are not great. The group 
of ^sisters also includes the girl cousins, some of whom are called "sister" in the 
Dakota kinship system. 

The present behavior between brother and sister is one of the most marked 
changes from the kinship pattern of the former culture. The old avoidance has 
disappeared, but mutual respect is still observed. Little girls of six or seven, who 
were formerly taught to avoid their brothers, now may sleep in the same bed with 
them. They ride to school in the same busses, they play and fight together, and 
older brothers even accompany younger sisters to dances when their parents can- 
not act as chaperons. Loyalty to the sister is still strong. This was observed in the 
present study in the fights of young boys over insults to their sisters and in the 
behavior of an older man who attempted to avenge his sister's murder. The pat- 
tern is approaching that of white children in both the mixed-blood and the full- 
blood families, but the taboo against intimacy between brother and sister is not 
lost entirely among the latter. In the modern Rabbit Dance, performed by couples, 
neither full-blood brothers and sisters nor those classed as such in the Sioux 
kinship system will dance together. 

The baby of the family is always privileged and deferred to by the older chil- 
dren and by the parents. In the interviews with parents, comments were con- 
stantly made about the youngest child in the family, and interviewers often 
observed the "babying" of the youngest child. Once a little girl was seen pulling 
a toilet pot from under her older brother, making him sit down hard. He im- 
mediately pulled her to the floor. Instead of rebuking the instigator, the mother's 


reaction was, <k Shame on you. You pulled her down and she's just little." This 
petting of the youngest child continues beyond infancy for the one who is never 
superseded by later additions to the family. Older children share candy, food, and 
toys with the youngest child more than they do with each other. An older sister 
was seen to leave the room where she was reading rather than correct her youngest 
sister of eight who was pushing a toad at her. O an eleven-year-old girl, her 
mother said, "The other children made a lot of her because she is the baby." Age 
differences also make some differences in parents' attitudes. Another mother 
said: "I guess she is spoiled. There was four years between her [the last] and the 
next older." 


The Dakota still do not draw as distinct a line as do white people between the 
family of father, mother, and children and the group of relatives consisting of 
grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, nephews, nieces, grandchildren, and more 
distant blood relations who form the extended family. In the old extended family 
group or tiyospaye camp, a man's tepee usually stood next to that of his married 
brother, and in front might be the tepee of a married son. Family homes are 
geographically widely separated today in comparison with the band camp, and 
the associations within an extended group are less frequent and intensive; but 
the individual usually does have a few members of his extended family close by. 
Grandparents may be living in a tent beside the house, with brothers or sisters 
as the nearest neighbors. Frequently a relative not belonging to the biological 
family may be living in the home. All these relatives in the family circle for the 
most part continue to maintain the relationships of the kinship system. 

The grandparents exemplify the ideal of kindliness and generosity of the old 
Sioux culture. The grandfather, formerly a counselor to the young, still attempts 
to continue this function, but his prestige has declined because he can no longer 
participate in activities formerly carried on by the older men and because he does 
not understand the changing ways, 

The grandmother who was a "second mother" in the old society, taking over 
the hard work of the household for her daughters during their childbearing pe- 
riod and sharing the care of the new grandchildren, 11 continues this role today. 
Her major responsibility is looking after the smaller children when the parents 
are busy. This may last at times for several weeks while the parents are working 
in the harvest fields. The affection of the grandmother and her freedom from the 
permanent and complete responsibility for the children make for an exceedingly 
pleasant and lifelong relationship. Adult grandchildren reciprocate her devotion 
during their early childhood by sending home money and gifts to "the old peo- 


The grandmother who will give or do anything for her grandchild is a person 
to whom the child turns when in need and in times of crisis. When a divorced 
person finds his children difficult to care for, he usually regards the grandmother's 
home as a place where they may be left. The generosity and kindness of the 
grandmother are sometimes abused by young people, who, when they are old 
enough to support themselves, will visit grandparents for a long period of time 
without contributing to the household and expect to be supported by the old 
people's rations or old age assistance check. 

It is difficult to ascertain how much of the kinship terminology that embraces 
the extended family is now used by the present youngest generation, for they 
have learned English terminology, which they use in the presence of white peo- 
ple. Some children draw a clear distinction by saying to a white person, "That is 
my father of course, he is really only my uncle but we call him 'father* in 
Indian." Another child will say, "My mother is here for me," if he believes this 
is the stronger argument for being excused from class, but in another circumstance 
he will mention the same individual as his aunt. Other children use the English 
kinship terms at home, calling the "fathers" and "mothers" of the extended family 
"uncles" and "aunts" and behaving toward them differently than toward their 
own fathers and mothers. This change is more marked among the mixed-blood 
people, because of their greater use of English and the classifications which white 
relatives make. The adoption of English kinship terminology appears to be a 
strong factor in breaking down the ties and behavior patterns of the extended 
family organization. 

Among full-blood families which still speak Siouan, the language aids in the 
preservation of the old terminology and related behavior. When members of the 
extended family live as neighbors, they continue to act according to the role of 
their relationship position. Thus a child born into such a group receives treatment 
as a son, a grandson, or a brother from those he is taught to call "father," "grand- 
father," or "brother." If the younger people appear lax in this behavior, a 
grandparent will often reprimand them for not adhering to the Indian way. 


Under the old kinship system, when an individual married, he acquired a new 
set of relatives the affinal toward whom he observed a prescribed form of be- 
havior based on his relationship to a person of the opposite sex of another family 
and on potential sex relationships and ensuing conflicts with his relatives. The 
behavior of a young man and woman before marriage and as a husband or wife 
is now markedly different from that which they observed two or three genera- 
tions ago. Courtship is no longer conducted under severe chaperonage or in 
momentary escapes from it. Friendship and congeniality have usually developed 


between the couple at school or in the neighborhood, and the feeling o being 
strangers to each other that formerly existed is overcome. 

Marriages are now made with little or no family sanction or symbolic expression 
of contract between the two families or the two persons involved. Formerly the 
man made gifts to the girl's parents, and his father's sisters and mother's brothers' 
wives equipped the new tepee of the couple with the necessary furnishings. Mar- 
riages of social importance were celebrated with an elaborate feast and religious 
performance. Today, the couple are married by a local missionary or a justice of 
the peace outside the reservation. The couple are more likely to announce that 
they are going to be married than to ask permission, and the man makes no gift 

It is usual for the couple to live at first with the parents of one or the other. The 
custom of the bride's gradually entering into the women's work of her husband's 
home or, if in her own home, of transferring the heavy household work to her 
mother and devoting her time to the lighter craftwork, has disappeared. Most 
couples soon establish a home of their own and often leave the reservation for 

This change toward the independence of the young married couple is not 
being made, however, without some tension between the couple or with their 
own families. The co-operation of a strongly knit extended family is still an 
ideal. The desire of the man to set up an economcially independent home may 
conflict with his wife's desire to be near or with her relatives. 12 This may be over- 
come by constant visiting or returning to live among her people. Similarly, a man 
who has attempted to keep a job or operate a farm independently may feel com- 
pelled to return to the family homestead to help out. 

The high respect and avoidance patterns between persons of different genera- 
tions who are related through marriage have been described previously. This com- 
plete formality was not observed in any of the homes during the field work of 
this study, yet the feeling of distance, particularly by older women toward their 
sons-in-law, was occasionally apparent. Some women would address a son-in-law 
.only on trivial matters or in an unavoidable emergency. One woman was seen 
shouting directions from a distance to her son-in-law who was building her a 
house, because there was no one to relay her wishes. The restriction upon in-laws 
of different generations and sex traveling or appearing in public together is in 
greater force, revealing that any suggestion of intimacy is still regarded as im- 
proper. The fact that the parents frequently live in a tent beside the home of one 
of their married children may be an effort to observe a certain amount of avoid- 
ance. The strength of this old avoidance taboo now varies from family to family. 
Sons- and daughters-in-law seen sitting in the homes conversing with the older 
people indicate that this pattern of avoidance among them is passing. 


The relationship and pattern of public joking between brothers- and sisters-in- 
law is also varying with the changing marital relationships. Although the privi- 
lege of the joking relationship is utilized by some men as a sexual outlet toward 
sisters-in-law, the ideal relationship now rests upon the respect held for a sister 
and another man's wife. However, the old attitude that a sister-in-law was a 
potential mate and an individual with whom one might joke on sexual matters 
has led to illicit sex relations. Some women openly live with their husband's 
brothers while the husbands are absent and even boast that some of their children 
were born of such affairs. 

The loyalty and co-operation that one gives and expects from blood relatives 
continues to function between relatives by marriage in the same generation. This 
extends beyond immediate brother- and sister-in-law. Remarks are commonly 
heard, such as, "My sister-in-law's brother took care of my cattle while I was 
away," or "My boy is helping So-and-so. He is my sister-in-law's sister's son; that 
is why he is helping him." These indicate that even the extended affinal relation- 
ships are still counted upon. 

The most notable aspect of in-law relationships that comes to light from inter- 
views is the expression of hostility. This is undoubtedly not new to the Teton- 
Dakota, for affinal relatives have always been outsiders to the extended family and 
have been received at least with reservations by some members. One function of 
the old avoidance pattern was to control such outbreaks. Some older women today 
pride themselves in never criticizing or even discussing with a daughter-in-law 
her affairs, even though a divorce may be imminent. However, these older women 
will freely gossip with others about their daughter-in-law's behavior. Misbehavior 
of children, accidents, and even death are openly traced to the daughter-in-law or 
son-in-law and other individuals in the affinal set of relatives. In this behavior 
there appears the solidarity felt toward one's own extended family and the po- 
tential jealousy and resentment felt toward other relatives with whom the only 
connection is through marriage. 


1. Dakota social organization has been treated more fully by Donald Collier, "Plains Camping 
Groups" (MS) ; Scudder Mekeel, The Economy of a Modern Teton Dakota Community (New Haven, 
Conn.: Yale University Press, 1936) ; Jeannette Mirsky, "The Dakota," in Cooperation and Competi- 
tion among Primitive Peoples, ed. Margaret Mead (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1937); 
Clark Wissler, Societies and Ceremonial Associations of the Oglala Division of the Teton-Dakpta 
(New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1912). 

2. George Hyde, Red Cloud's Fol% (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1937), p. 11. 

3. See chap. ii. 

4. Wissler, op. at., chap. i. 

5. This section is based largely upon information from Fred Eggan, 'The Cheyenne and Arapaho 
Kinship System," in Social Anthropology of North American Tribes, ed. Fred Eggan (Chicago: 
University of Chicago Press, 1937); Royal B. Hassrick, "The Teton-Dakota Kinship System" (MS); 
and Mirsky, op. at. 


6. Such behavior was given supernatural sanction by the White Buffalo Maiden in the mythical 
ceremony described in the section on Dakota ceremonies in chap. vii. See also the section on standards 
for women in chap. viii. 

7. This respect for the child's accountability to himself for his own actions is difficult for white 
people to understand and is often interpreted by them as indifference on the part of Indian parents to 
their child's behavior. Parents do not force their children to conform because "mother knows best" 
or to avoid damaging the parents' reputation or self-esteem. A child who runs away from school is 
usually not asked why he came home. Likewise, the grown son who leaves the reservation and is not 
heard from for years is rarely questioned on his return about what he has been doing. 

8. Cf. Mirsky, op. tit., p. 425. 

9. Ibid., pp. 394-95. 

10. This is also true today of "brothers" in the extended family. 

11. Mirsky, of. tit., p. 397. 

12. See the previous section of this chapter on the bond between mother and children. 


NOWADAYS the old tiyospaye no longer exist as organized units, but they are 
the bases of most of the rural communities. There are also on the reserva- 
tion communities of related mixed-blood people and villages which have 
not developed from the native social groups. The difference in origin of full-blood 
and mixed-blood communities can be found in the desire to cling to either Indian 
or white lines of descent and ways of living. 


As people from the eastern woodland area, the Teton-Dakota were undoubtedly 
drawn to the wooded creek valleys for their camp sites when they first entered 
the plains. Fuel and water were plentiful, and the cottonwood and elder growth 
offered shelter from the high winds. When the Indians spread from their first 
camp at the Agency over the reservation in the 1880's, they settled by bands along 
creeks according to custom. The new band camps were not maintained for long, 
however, for individual families began building permanent homes up and down 
the creeks. The extended family group which formerly erected its lodges together 
now stretched in a line of separated homes. When a family increased, an older 
man might take his children and perhaps the families of his brothers and sisters 
to some distance below the original band site or to another creek and form an- 
other group, which ultimately developed into a separate community. This fol- 
lowed the process by which new bands were created in the former society. Most 
of the present-day reservation communities are thus derived from original bands. 1 

The first reservation camp sites chosen by a band may be marked now by the 
old chiefs house, which was built by the government, or by a round dance hall. 
Such is the case in the Kyle area, where the major part of the present study was 
undertaken. A few houses have been built near the old sites, but there is no evi- 
dence of anything resembling a village or clustering of the homes of the descend- 
ants of the band. In one Kyle community, American Horse, a son of the old band 
chief lives in the two-story frame house built for his father. His brothers and 
sisters live in log cabins on their individual allotments a quarter to a full mile apart 



along the creek. Below them is the home of a white rancher who leases Indian 
land. Continuing down the creek for ten or twelve miles are the homes of Indian 
families, each now on its allotment. Every three or four homes belong to a group 
of brothers and sisters and their families, forming an extended family neighbor- 

This pattern of the extended family living on adjoining lands was created in 
part by the allotment system, when a man, his wife, and children received adjoin- 
ing allotments of land. As the children grew up and married, they built their 
homes on their own allotments, thereby retaining the family grouping and estab- 
lishing a family neighborhood. Other members of the original band also received 
allotments along the same creek, so that the descendants of the band have main- 
tained a community grouping. All these families can trace their common relation- 
ship to the original large extended family group; but, with each new generation 
and the growing importance of the individual family, the common relationship 
becomes weaker and less meaningful. The new family neighborhoods are devel- 
oping into independent extended family groups. 

A second distinct community in the Kyle area was formed by Thunder Bull, 
a lesser chief of the American Horse band. He led his immediate relatives from the 
first camp site to another creek where they and their descendants received their 

A third community of the Kyle area is composed of the descendants of the band 
of Little Wound, one of the leading chiefs of the Oglala. This community is now 
spread over a long valley drained by two creeks. Along these creeks there are 
developing new extended family groups which are becoming independent of the 
larger community. One of these groups, whose members are nearly all full-bloods, 
has formed a cattle association and has pooled land for a joint range. All the men 
of this association are relatives either by blood or by marriage. This particular 
development, which has been duplicated several times on the reservation, reveals 
the continuing strength and importance of the extended family. 

There is much social as well as economic participation within the modern ex- 
tended family neighborhood. The women are frequently seen at work together 
or chatting in one home or under a bough-covered shade. The small children who 
form a group of brothers, sisters, and cousins play together around a single house. 
The men not only share their labor and form economic groups but also meet in 
one another's homes to discuss local events, programs proposed by the govern- 
ment, or problems of the community. 

The cohesion among the members of each community has been maintained in 
part through the ties and mutual obligations of blood and marriage relationships. 
Social events,* such as a Rabbit Dance or a party for a departing soldier, bring 
together the individuals of the total community to share in the feasting and to 


give presents in honor of the person being feted. Funerals also are occasions when 
all relatives come together, reuniting especially the community group. At Kyle 
each large community has its church and church community house for social 
affairs. There is an Episcopal church in American Horse and in Little Wound, 
and Thunder Bull has a Catholic chapel. Each church has a community house 
for social affairs. The government also built a neighborhood house in the Thunder 
Bull community during its recent rehabilitation program. The round dance hall 
built in the early days at the Little Wound camp site still serves as a community 
center for Indian dances. Most of the reservation communities also use the day 
school for community meetings and entertainments. All these institutions and 
religious and social gatherings function to preserve the unity of the community. 

On the other hand, several factors, such as the geographic separation of families 
and the development of new extended family groups, have led to the disintegra- 
tion of original band grouping. The individual and the individual family can, if 
they desire, support themselves on a farm or by wage work without the assistance 
of others and can find companionship and social life outside the community. In- 
dividuals are now frequently leaving the group to live and work elsewhere. Such 
separation of the individual from his or her relationship group rarely took place 
in the old days, except by moving away with one's entire family or joining an- 
other band by marriage. 

The band integration has also been weakened by the decline of Indian leader- 
ship and the passing of the functions of government to the Agency. The newly 
formed Tribal Council, which exercises some measure of local self-government, 
has not restored integration or local control to the community, for representation 
is based on the government-formed district. 2 The loosening of Indian social and 
political organization and the absence of full recognition by the government of 
either the existing native communities or their traditional functions and con- 
tinuing potentialities for economic social and political organization and develop- 
ment are producing community disintegration. This disintegration and the de- 
velopment of individualism are resulting in insecurity for the group and the 
individual which are major problems of Dakota adjustments to reservation and 
white life, 


The preceding description of community development and organization has 
been concerned with the Indian community which is typical of the rural areas of 
the reservation. There are also two other types on the reservation the mixed- 
blood and the village communities which have no roots in the old bands. 

In the Kyle area there are two rural communities of predominantly mixed- 
blood people in addition to Kyle village itself. One community is descended from 
a group of Spanish and Mexican men who came to the reservation as traders 


from New Mexico, later marrying Sioux women and settling among the Indians. 
Their wives and their children received allotments along Three-Mile, or Spanish, 
Creek, and their descendants have remained there. The Indian pattern of extended 
family group co-operation is strong among them. There is exchange of labor in 
managing cattle, building homes, tanning food, or breaking horses, visiting and 
working together at one another's homes, and taking care of one another when 
sick. The children move easily from one home to another for a meal or to spend 
the night. 

On the other hand, many things about this community distinguish it from full- 
blood communities like Thunder Bull and American Horse. Some of the homes 
are made of logs, but they usually have more rooms than the average full-blood's 
cabin. There are more tables, chairs, beds, clocks, and decorations, which show a 
home life and interest in property that is closer to the rural white pattern than to 
the Indian. In the operation of their cattle and horse herds and their farms, these 
mixed-blood families are highly individualistic. They exchange labor, but they 
wish to operate on their own land, to buy and sell individually, and not to form 
associations. In this, too, they follow the pattern of the rural white people of the 
region. The community has a Catholic chapel which is attended mainly by the 
local mixed-blood people. They organize their own Sunday afternoon rodeos and 
baseball games and have their own little orchestra of fiddle, guitar, and con- 
certina for community dances. The parent generation grew up speaking Siouan 
and Spanish and learned English in school. The children speak English, which 
is now the language of the community, and know little Siouan and less Spanish. 
It is characteristic of the children in this community to finish high school and 
take some vocational or college training. These people have married whites and 
other mixed-bloods, especially members of the second mixed-blood community 
in Kyle. 

This community along the White River in the Badlands area near Kyle is 
descended from English, French, and Spanish traders, trappers, and pioneers who 
came on the reservation when it was first established; nearly all its members are 
now related through intermarriage. They raise cattle and horses and farm small 
gardens and live much like the poorer white ranchers on the reservation. Several 
of these mixed-blood families have frame and rammed-earth houses which are 
superior to any homes found in the full-blood communities. 

These ranchers and their fathers before them have carried on independent cattle 
businesses. In the years before World War I they had big herds of cattle. When 
they sold their herds, they had large sums of cash for a short time. Some also sold 
their lands; others leased and then entered dry farming. In the financial crash 
of 1922 several of these families became bankrupt and lost most of the land which 
they had held in fee simple. Some were forced to leave the community; others 


were able to carry on with a small amount of farming and, later, wage work. 
Since about 1937 they have built up their herds and are advancing toward eco- 
nomic independence. 

In 1942 the Army took over a strip of land along the northern border of the 
reservation that included the allotments of this mixed-blood community. Some 
of the families moved into Kyle village and others into the Three-Mile Creek 
community; still others leased land in the full-blood communities. The families 
in the rural areas have built new homes and moved their stock onto the new lands. 
In a few years they should be re-established as independent ranchers. 

Kyle village is composed of several Indian families, a few resident whites who 
farm and run stores, and a group of government employees. The Indian residents 
have homes in the other communities but have moved into the village to work for 
the traders or the government. This Indian population is always in flux. During 
the years of relief work and the construction of the day school at Kyle, there were 
many more families, but most of them have returned to their homes to raise 
cattle and plant gardens or have left the reservation for war work. There is no 
integration of the Indian residents of the village because they do not share a 
common blood relationship, which is the basis of close social interaction among 
the Dakota. Each family of the village carries on its most intimate relationships 
with relatives in the outlying communities. If a family has no such relatives, it 
remains somewhat isolated and on only superficial social terms with its neigh- 
bors. There are also a few related mixed-blood families living on the outskirts of 
the village who farm and run a few dairy cows. 

The village is situated at the confluence of three small streams which form 
Medicine Root Creek, the main stream in the area. The Indian communities ex- 
tending along the small streams therefore also converge on the village, so that it 
is a geographical and integrating center. The offices of the Indian Service farm 
agent and doctor, the district school, the ration commissary, the post office, a store, 
and a small cafe are also located in the village, making it the political, commercial, 
and official center for the communities as well. The life of the village revolves 
around these several institutions. 

The most important single establishment of the village is the trader's store, the 
only place in the area where groceries, clothing, and general merchandise can be 
purchased. The store serves as the local communication center. Here notices of 
community dances, of feasts for visiting soldiers, and of church bingo parties and 
government activities are posted. The store is also the post office, where letters are 
opened and the contents reported to relatives or other interested listeners. The 
place is usually full of Indians, who have come to make a purchase or get the mail 
and stay on to gossip with friends. It is also a vantage point to watch the coming 
and going of government employees, especially those driving in from the Agency. 


Any bits of official news, reports on the war, or gossip about unusual activity of 
any individual or family are passed about and later carried into communities. 
As many of the Indians, particularly the men, have a great deal of idle time on 
their hands, they have ample opportunity to sit around for purely social purposes. 

Across the street is a second communication center, a little restaurant which 
also sells candy and gasoline. Everything and everybody are discussed: the latest 
activities and treatment by officials at the Agency, the complaints and resentment 
reported by Indians, and the developments of the war. 

A Catholic church in the town serves the local people and those close by in the 
rural communities. A priest from the central mission conducts services here on 
alternate Sundays. Occasionally a bingo party or cake sale is held in the church 
basement by the local Catholic guild. The church also owns a building of 
five or six rooms which it rents to older homeless people and locally employed 

The school-farm office-clinic-store-church nucleus is one which appears with 
all or some of its elements as a center for each district which the government has 
organized on the reservation. The village center at Kyle is one of the larger and 
more important of these centers because it serves a large district of several rural 


The town of Pine Ridge as the official center, with a large number of govern- 
ment employees and a local population of mixed-blood wage-workers and white 
and Indian tradesmen, has a composition and function unique on the reserva- 
tion. In addition to its offices and employee quarters, the government maintains 
the reservation hospital and the Oglala Community High School, a primary and 
secondary school for boarding and local day pupils. The heads of the Protestant 
missions on the reservation also live at Pine Ridge. The Catholic church maintains 
a parish and parish priest in the town, but the center of its work is at the Holy 
Rosary Mission, about five miles north of Pine Ridge, where it maintains a large 
twelve-grade boarding school. 

The town is situated a few miles north of the Nebraska line in the southwest 
quarter of the reservation. A state highway, running north from Rushville, Ne- 
braska, to the Black Hills, divides Pine Ridge into two sections. The west half of 
town is the official area of the Agency, the school, and the residences of the gov- 
ernment employees. The government hospital is also on this side of the highway 
on a hill overlooking the town. An American Legion hall and the local county 
public school are the only non-federal buildings in the official area. 

On the east side of town are the churches and missionaries' home, the local 
hotel, the traders* or general country stores, a few cafes, a drug store, a hair- 


dresser's shop, and two gasoline stations. The local Indian population, many of 
whom are employed as irregular laborers and assistants by the Agency, also live 
in this part of Pine Ridge. Their small houses, built close together on small assign- 
ments of government reserve land, range in style from small stucco cottages, with 
flag poles in the yards and pathways lined by whitewashed stones, to tar-papered 
shacks and disintegrating log cabins. The appearance of the house is a good index 
of the occupant's prosperity and his degree of assimilation into white ways. 

A large majority of the local Indians have less than one-half Indian blood. As 
a group they prefer wage work to farming. They want homes of their own and 
education and training for their children, so that they rnay also get jobs and ad- 
vance in the white social scale. These Indian residents are nearly all newcomers 
who moved in from the reservation and from the outside during the years of the 
depression to obtain relief wage work at the Agency. Since the cessation of this 
employment, many have left the town for war-work centers. The remaining 
group has become the most assimilated (in terms of behavior, attitudes, and 
desire to become like white people) of any group in the reservation proper. They 
follow in general the pattern of life of the white people of the lower-income group 
of any South Dakota town. 

There is very little Indian custom to be observed in the life of Pine Ridge; such 
as there is, is followed by the oldest generation. Most of the Pine Ridge residents, 
however, are proud of their Indian blood, as may be observed in the satisfaction 
they take in the success of Indians in the war and the outside world. 

The social life of the town is almost as sharply divided as its official and non- 
official areas. The Agency employees, with the exception of local people, are a 
group sent in by the government. They are frequently transferred to other parts 
of the reservation or to other reservations, so that they, have few roots in Pine 
Ridge. They are placed on the reservation to teach the Indians or perform other 
functions for the Indians' welfare, and hence they feel somewhat apart. This gap 
is widened by their higher incomes and standard of living, for most of the em- 
ployees come from a higher economic, educational, and social status than most of 
the Indians or resident whites and wish to maintain that status. Thus by both 
their official standing and their social status in terms of white society, the govern- 
ment officials, whether they wish to be or not, are placed in a superior relationship 
to the Indians. 

The employees and residents of the town mix socially to some degree in the 
community affairs and entertainments which the boarding school sponsors. The 
two weekly moving pictures and the bowling matches, which are open to the 
public, and the meetings of the women's club and the parent-teacher association 
are the most important of these functions. The employees attend the churches 
and church social affairs and occasional meetings or dances sponsored by the 


people of the town. There are also some informal social relations between the 
schoolteachers and residents of the town. The small group of women teachers 
married to local men and living on the east side of the town are an important link 
between employees and the local population. 

There is also a group of local white people who have many close friends among 
the more well-to-do and educated Indians, and marriages take place between 
these two groups. These white people have in many ways more influence than 
the official group upon the type of modern life which the Indian people are adopt- 
ing. The Indians can mix upon more equal terms with them as neighbors, attend 
the same churches, and have similar homes and living standards. 

There are a few other small towns in the reservation where Indians have 
settled. The town of Wanblee is in the center of the northeastern quarter of the 
reservation, about a hundred miles from Pine Ridge. Most of the Indians here 
belong to the sociological full-blood group. They have their Indian camp or 
quarter where many live during the winter, while their children attend the local 
Indian school. There are also a few families of white men with wives of a small 
degree of Indian blood. During the depression and recent war years, most of the 
white population departed. In 1943 the county was forced to close the Wanblee 
public high school and send the few remaining children to another town. 

Martin, in ceded Bennett County, is a larger town, although it, too, has suffered 
from the movement of people to areas with more employment opportunities. 
Many mixed-blood people have settled here and in the surrounding country. 
People of Indian blood hold positions in the town as clerks in the store, post office, 
and bank and as clergymen. The assimilation of the mixed-blood people can be 
seen functioning under more natural conditions in Martin than in Pine Ridge be- 
cause they can move fairly easily into business and social life, without the limita- 
tions of civil service and the social status that accompanies it. 


Pine Ridge Reservation is divided into six districts, which were established 
in the 1880's for issuing rations to the several groups of Indian bands. All the 
Indians of a district were required to go to their district ration station for beef and 
other supplies. The district lines followed the watersheds so that all the Indians 
within a single system of creek valleys were grouped in a natural geographic 

In the development of the agricultural extension program by the Indian Service, 
these districts were employed as areas which each farm agent or assistant could 
supervise with a fair amount of ease traveling by horse or by car. The districts 
have been used by other Agency divisions as areas of service, but areas vary with 
the division. The doctor at Kyle, in the Medicine Root District, also serves a 


second district. The Little Wound Day School at Kyle, one o the two consoli- 
dated rural schools on the reservation, receives thildren from all the major com- 
munities of the Medicine Root District except Potato Creek, which has its own 
day school. 

The districts have also been made the political divisions of the reservation under 
the Pine Ridge Tribal Constitution drawn up under the Indian Reorganization 
Act. The districts send representatives to the Tribal Council and have their own 
local councils. Although this brings self-government into the district, it has not 
been always satisfactory, for the district is artificially created and is not a native 
social grouping. 

The field agent of the Indian Service Extension Division is the only official 
who serves Medicine Root District exclusively. His work is primarily concerned 
with the development of agricultural enterprises among the Indians, including 
the supervision of the livestock and property acquired through government loans 
and the issuing of permits to slaughter or sell animals on which the government 
has any lien. In actual function, the farm agent acts as a local field representative 
for the Agency, distributing pay-roll and other government checks, investigating 
complaints of trespass on land, giving out information on government forms and 
procedures, settling family disputes, and making telephone calls and writing 
personal or business letters for the Indians. He is the information center in all 
matters which the Indians do not comprehend and their personal representative in 
relations with the Agency. 

This work is shared by the school principal. As supervisor of community wel- 
fare and adult education and dispenser of the monthly rations, the principal has 
also become an individual to whom the Indians go for much assistance and 

The doctor holds a weekly clinic at Kyle. The remainder of his time is devoted 
to home calls and clients in the other Medicine Root communities and to the 
clinic in the second district which he serves, where he has a resident public health 
nurse to assist him. 

Little Wound School is the most important institution of the district, for it 
brings together all the children and many adults of the neighboring communities 
of Kyle. School busses carry the 150-odd children from their homes to school, 
where they spend the day and receive a noon meal. The Kyle children are day 
pupils through the ninth grade and then go to the boarding school at Pine Ridge 
to finish their high-school work. During the nine years in the day school, the 
children become acquainted with nearly all of their age mates in the district. 
Working together in class and playing together in games and on school teams, 
the children make intimate friends with others outside their own neighborhoods 
and communities and overcome much of the segregation and clannishness which 




Village Q 

School f 


n . Scale Miles 


9 Batesland 



life in the neighborhood of an extended family group tends to produce. This 
influence of the day school becomes very apparent in the cliques that the children 
of each district form when they enter boarding school. 

The auditorium, gymnasium, and large kitchen and dining-room make the 
school a center for the adults of the district as well as the children. The women's 
club meets during school hours every Friday to sew and learn improved home 
and child care methods and to discuss school and district problems. It also spon- 
sors dances, suppers, and other entertainment. The school is the meeting place 
of the district council, the exhibit hall for the district agricultural fair, the dance 
hall for both Indian and modern dances, and the local motion-picture theater. 
These activities in the consolidated school are developing the integration of the 
district into a more functional unit. The schools in district centers such as the 
villages of Wanblee and Allen are accomplishing a similar result. 


1. In a study of Pine Ridge social organization in 1935, forty-one such band -derived communities 
were located (Scudder Mekeel, personal correspondence) . 

2. See the final section of this chapter. 


IT WAS stated in chapter iv that the Dakota on Pine Ridge Reservation have 
come to look upon themselves as the Pine Ridge Indians rather than Oglala 
or Brule. Their segregation on a single reservation and supervision by an 
Indian Service agency, to which they have looked for care and assistance for over 
sixty years, have been the major influences in developing the members of the two 
subtribes into this new social group. This is but one of many profound changes in 
the Dakota society which have resulted from the relationship of Indians to the 
government, and hence the relationship needs to be discussed briefly. 


The relationship of the Indians on federal reservations to the United States 
government" has neverjbecn satisfactorily defined. For a long time the Indians 
have been regarded as wards of the nation. This concept has its constitutional 
basis in the power of the President (with the consent of the Senate) to make 
treaties, and the power of Congress to regulate commerce with the Indian tribes. 

Blauch has succinctly described the wardship status, as it has been defined in 
modern times, and the jurisdiction which the government holds over the Indians. 

"The Comptroller General has rendered several decisions on the matter [ward- 
ship], which in substance hold that a ward Indian is (1) one who lives on a 
Federal Indian reservation and maintains tribal relations, or (2) one who has 
restricted property (in his own right, not inherited) held in trust under Govern- 
mental control and supervision, whether or not he lives on a reservation or main- 
tains tribal relations ..... 

"Guardianship over the Indians was assumed by the Government at a time 
when, as a group, they were unquestionably incapable of managing their property 
in the face of the white man's civilization and economy. Guardianship relates 
primarily to restrictions on property. These restrictions apply only to property 
secured to an Indian by Governmental action; they do not apply to property 
secured by him through his own efforts. Ordinarily he has complete control of' 
his own earnings and of property purchased with such earnings, as well as of 



property obtained as a beneficiary. The words 'restricted,' 'incompetent,' and 'non- 
competent' are used interchangeably to denote the status of the Indian with 
respect to his property; they have no bearing on, or relation to, the actual ability 
of the individual Indian to order the affairs of his own life." 1 

Indians born in this country are citizens of the United States. Citizenship was 
granted to some Indians by the General Allotment Act of 1887 and was promised 
to th^se who were established as competent by receiving their allotments in fee 
simjpif at the end of the twenty-five-year trust period. However, citizenship was 
not conferred upon all Indians until 1924. 

Since citizenship does not automatically confer the right of suffrage, not all 
Indians are eligible to vote. Today, however, in all but three states (Arizona, New 
Mexfco, and Idaho) Indians may vote, and the proportion who do so depends up- 
on personal or local attitudes. Many of the Pine Ridge Indians are active in 
politics. Indians are also entitled to the benefits of federal-state social security 
programs, although some states have questioned the validity of expending state 
funds for federal wards. Like citizens of other races, Indians are subject to the 
Selective Service Act, and many Pine Ridge young men have entered the armed 
forces through the draft as well as through enlistment. 

The peculiar status of Indians as wards has led to many seeming contradictions 
in their relations to both federal and state governments. Indian lands held in trust 
are not subject to property taxation, but all other forms of taxation apply to 
Indians as well as to whites. Generally speaking, Indians are subject to the criminal 
laws of the state off the reservation, but Indians on restricted lands within the 
reservation are answerable only to the federal courts or to the Tribal Court. 2 

The federal government fulfils its responsibility to Indians largely through the 
Office of Indian Affairs and its field service. These duties and responsibilities fall 
roughly into two categories: the guardianship of the property of Indians and the 
promotion of their social and economic seB-sufficiency7 The present policy is to 
qualify Indians f or a$sui5mgTull management of their affairs, eventually without 
federal supervision, by building Indian societies based upon still-funtioning tribal 
life and integrated aspects of white civilization. 

On the reservation this policy is executed through the Agency, under the direc- 
tion of the superintendent and the heads of divisions responsible to him. Each 
division has its special function in the total program to develop the Indians' land, 
cattle, and farm assets, to minister to their personal well-being, or to advance their 
education. The Soil and Moisture Conservation Division protects and rebuilds 
the land by proper control. The Agricultural Extension Division promotes the 
expansion of ownership of cattle through government credit facilities and the 
production of food in family gardens; it instructs Indians in livestock and farm 




management. The Irrigation Division develops dams and water-distribution 
systems for sections of the reservation adaptable to irrigated farming. The For- 
estry Division manages the timber supply, controlling the cutting of trees in order 
that the tribal forests may provide a perpetual supply of lumber and fuel; it also 
maintains a forest-fire protection service. 

The Health Division operates the hospitals and cares for the sick. It attempts 
to help Indians to improve their own health through the work of visiting nurses 
and the holding of clinics on tuberculosis, trachoma, and other diseases which 
are prevalent among Indians. The Education Division provides school facilities 
and promotes a program to prepare young people for the economy and society 
envisioned for the reservation. The Welfare Division is represented on the reserva- 
tion by a social worker who administers the Indian Service Relief Fund (until 
1944 usually distributed as food rations), conducts child and family welfare serv- 
ices, co-operates with the state department of social security in its aid to the aged, 
the blind, and independent children, and acts locally for the United States Em- 
ployment Service. The Law and Order Section of the Welfare Division maintains 
a chief of police and his deputies and the reservation jail. 

The Indians of the reservation have a large measure of self-government through 
their tribal constitution, formed under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934. 
The constitution provides for a tribal council which has as its chief functions the 
recommendation and approval of programs and administrative measures for the 
reservation, the management of tribal funds and resources in co-operation with 
the superintendent and his staff, and the promulgation of laws for the people. The 
regulations proposed by the Tribal Council must be approved by the superin- 
tendent and the Secretary of the Interior. This council and constitution have given 
the people a greater voice in reservation affairs and more participation in admin- 
istration than they had previously had. 

The Tribal Council appoints the judges of the Tribal Court, all of whom are 
Indians. This court has jurisdiction over misdemeanors, divorce, and petty crimes 
not involving the ten major offenses tried in federal courts. 


In addition to government employees, there are white men in all parts of Pine 
Ridge Reservation. Most of them live on leased or purchased allotments within the 
Indian communities. In some parts of the reservation, whites have acquired most 
of the land and have formed predominantly white communities. These whites are 
stockmen, farmers, and storekeepers, often a combination of all three. Some are 
large landholders. White farmers employ a number of Indian families during 
harvest season and have a few Indian hired hands the year round. 

Many of these white men were early settlers in South Dakota, and a few inter- 


married and lived with Indians before Pine Ridge was established as a separate 
reservation. Others are first- and second-generation Europeans, showing much of 
the industry and clannishness of the isolated European peasant in America. Their 
standards of living and education are those of the lower-class rural folk of South 
Dakota. A few have profited from a series of good crops and amassed small 
fortunes, but many were bankrupted by the drought and are now being aided by 
government agricultural agencies. Their successes and their failures, their homes, 
their clothes, their luxuries, and their recreations underlie many of the reasons 
why some Indians farm and take up white ways, while others do not. These are 
people who make their living from the land as the Indians are encouraged to do. 
They are functioning farmers, by whom many Indians prefer to be guided be- 
cause they seem more realistic than the salaried officials who preach but do not 
practice farming. 

Piese white residents are also neighbors and friends of Indian families and are 
especially friendly with a^gKMlp^f_mixed-bloo3s of tfielesser degrees of Indian 
admixture. Perhaps more than any other single group, these farmers transmit 
white customs and exemplify the" habits~and -values- of "white life to the Indian 

These whites are the people, too, who are envious and contemptuous of the 
Indian because of his free schools, hospitals, rations, and other government aids. 
According to them, the Indian with all his "privileges" cannot do so well as the 
white man in making a living. "Why should he be freed from taxes and paid for 
making a living? Why should he hold all this valuable land he does not use? 
Why should the Indian Service try to drive whites off their land to make room 
for these lazy men? The QC.C. was the best thing that ever happened to the 
Indians. The government should employ all the Indians and leave the land for us 
who will use it." These typical remarks show much of their prejudices and deep 
conviction of the "inferiority" of the Indian population. However, intermarriage 
continues. Family after family of whites becomes identified with the Indian popu- 
lation, and the Indians become closer in blood and in manner to the local whites. 


White men near the reservation have also influenced the Pine Ridge Indian. 
Parallel to the northern and southern reservation boundaries are a highway and 
a railroad line along which are located a series of small towns and market centers 
for the surrounding rural areas, These are also shopping centers for the reservation 
people who wish to buy from stores with more varied stock than the local traders 

The more important of these towns are south of the reservation in Nebraska. In 
Gordon is a new sales ring for livestock, which has made this town of considerable 


importance to the Indians. Rushville, twenty-six miles directly south of the 
Agency, is its chief freight station and shopping center. Chadron, just below the 
southwest corner of the reservation, is the largest of the three near-by Nebraska 
towns. From both Rushville and Chadron, highways run directly north across 
the reservation. 

Just over the Nebraska line from Pine Ridge town is White Clay, a drab little 
village composed largely of stores along either side of the highway. This is the 
"Gay White Way" for the reservation employees, since they can buy beer here. 
Although sale of liquor to Indians is forbidden by federal law, the Indians get it 
through bootleggers. White Clay's beer parlors are its chief attraction, but its 
stores and garages offer competition to the few in Pine Ridge and draw the busi- 
ness of government employees and Indians alike. 

Northwest of the reservation in South Dakota are the towns of the Black Hills. 
The little towns have Wild West shows and annual "old timers" celebrations to 
which the Indians come to have a holiday or to earn money or win prizes. Rapid 
City, a city of about 14,000 population in 1940, is the one truly urban center near 
the reservation and as such is highly impressive to the Indians. The city is a 
center of year-round Indian employment, and by 1942 over a hundred and fifty 
Pine Ridge families were living there. The town's summer fairs and other tourist 
attractions draw many Indians for temporary work as performers and craftsmen. 
Rapid City has grown fast, owing to war activities. In 1942 at least three hundred 
more Indian families went there for employment in military construction. 

During the harvest season Pine Ridge families drive their wagons to the towns 
just outside the reservation to look for work. If they do not have former employers 
to, go to, the men stand on the streets until a farmer in need of help picks them up. 
The families camp outside the towns on their week ends or when unemployed. 

Job-hunting is not the only reason why Indians visit these towns. Shopping 
trips are great occasions. The whole family goes and stays all day. Parents purchase 
the food and other things they need on the farm, buy candy and presents for their 
children, attend a movie, and visit with friends from distant places whom they 
meet on the streets. 

The attitudes of the whites of these towns toward Indians are conflicting. 
Employers want Indians to harvest corn and potatoes. They are invited to partic- 
ipate in the summer fairs and rodeos, to which they add a great deal of color. The 
stores enjoy their trade, particularly in the fall, when Indians buy winter supplies 
and clothing before returning home from the harvest. 

On the other hand, the white people in the towns look down upon the Indians. 
Part of this feeling is a reaction to the fear in which the Indians were once held. 
It is also due to their present demoralized condition and occasional drunken 
brawls. On the occasions when an Inrlian drinking party breaks into a fight or 


wild carousing in the streets, police make immediate arrests, and the usual penalty 
is several days of imprisonment and cleaning the streets o the town. Such inci- 
dents revive for a time the talk against Indians and the latent prejudice against 
them as a group. This attitude is also derived from the fact that the Indians when 
working off the reservation are usually associated with transient harvest laborers, 
whom the townspeople and employers regard as a lower economic and social 

To sum up, attitudes vary generally with the social status of the white man. The 
tradespeople, well-to-do farmers, and government employees, 3 who form the 
middle class of South Dakota and Nebraska, look upon most Indians as socially 
and economically inferior. The Indians who are acceptable to this white group are 
those whose education, employment, and social behavior are like their own. 

There is, however, another group of whites in the area to whom the Indians, 
especially the mixed-bloods, are more acceptable and with whom there is some 
intermarriage. This group is largely composed of the poorer farmers and towns- 
people, often those who live on the "wrong side of the track." Because of the 
greater freedom of social relationships with these white people, the Indians are 
adopting their pattern of living and their social attitudes and values. In other 
words, the Indians are merging to a greater degree with the lower than with the 
middle class of South Dakota whites. 


1. Lloyd E, Blauch, Educational Service for Indians (Washington: Government Printing Office, 
1939), pp. 9-10. 

2. The federal district court has jurisdiction in the following classes of offenses: ten major crimes 
(murder, manslaughter, assault with intent to kill, assault with a dangerous weapon, rape, incest, 
arson, burglary, larceny, and robbery); offenses which are ordinarily under federal jurisdiction 
throughout the United States; offenses committed in violation of special laws enacted for the protection 
of Indians and their property; offenses between Indians and non-Indians or between non-Indians on 
territory within the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States (U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Manual 
of Instructions for Special and Deputy Special Officers and Indian Police [Chilocco, Okla., 1943], 
pp. 36-37). 

3. See the section on Pine Ridge town in the preceding chapter. 


DAKOTA religion was based upon a belief in a great supernatural power 
which dwelt in the sky, the earth, and the four cardinal points or the four 
winds. Since life depended upon this power and from it came all good 
and necessary things, the Dakota believed that it must be invoked for the welfare 
of the tribe and for individual success in the daily tasks of life. It was also believed 
that the people must follow a moral life, express friendship for one another, and 
strive to perform their proper functions as men, women, and children. Otherwise 
the elements of this power would take revenge by sending sickness and other 
misfortunes. Hence a series of rituals was developed to show reverence to the great 
power, invoke its strength, and atone for misdeeds. 

The ceremonies and beliefs which were elaborated around this central theme 
have disappeared, but the basic belief in the need for power remains. It functions 
in minor native cults, the work of medicine men, and the Peyote cult, which 
embraces the worship of the Christian Deity. It has been conveyed into the ortho- 
dox Christianity introduced by missionaries. Hence the contemporary religion 
among the Pine Ridge Indians must be looked at in terms of the old. 


The Teton-Dakota regarded themselves as superior to all other people and were 
confident of their ability to vanquish all enemies, but before the supernatural they 
presented themselves as weak and humble suppliants for power. To be successful 
warriors and hunters, to win women, to be leaders, to have social status and join 
the tribal societies and cults, and to achieve the virtues of Dakota life, men had to 
have the power that came only from the supernatural. " 

To achfeve power, a boy or man had' to seek it by going alone into the plains, 
where the supernatural power of the universe might come to him in the form 
of some animal or bird to be his guardian spirit. Here the candidate, unarmed 
and naked or clad only in a breechcloth and moccasins, humbled himself by 
fasting and telling of his poverty and weakness and by enduring self-inflicted 

The guardian spirit which appeared in a vision, usually on the fourth day of the 



ordeal, became his protector for life, and its behavior, songs, and message, as inter- 
preted by a priest, determined much of the man's later character and social role. If 
the vision revealed the spirit hunting animals successfully, the individual tested 
his new power by hunting in the same way. If he was successful, men believed in 
his visionary experience, and he was thought to have power. Similarly, a vision 
interpreted as that of a warrior successful in raiding sent an individual on the 
warpath with a few companions who were willing to follow him. These visions 
were believed also to predestine the roles of those who were to remain poor, 
become trans vestites (individuals who dressed and lived like women), or be 
priests or doctors. 

The visions and spiritual instructions conformed to a pattern and did not pro- 
duce, as might be expected, a great variety and confusion of religious experiences 
and subsequent unapproved or strange behavior. 1 Any great deviation from 
accepted Dakota custom was averted by certain conditions in the society. It can be 
appreciated that on a psychological level an individual would be likely to see in 
a self-induced dream the actions and things he had learned to expect from folk 
belief and the preliminary instructions given by older men. In other words, the 
culture exerted a pressure upon the vision-seeker to conform to sanctioned experi- 

On the other hand, the vision might sanction peculiar and highly individualistic 
behavior by releasing the expression of unconscious drives or desires. 2 For ex- 
ample, in a culture like that of the Dakota, which demanded robust masculine 
qualities of its boys, a young man who had an effeminate nature and wished to 
follow the pursuits of women would have to suppress all such desires. These 
tendencies might appear in the vision or dream, when conscious controls were 
relaxed. Ethnological accounts show that young men occasionally did have visions 
recognized by the culture as indications of the supernatural sanction of the pursuit 
of a woman's career. Similarly women occasionally had dreams which permitted 
them to go on the warpath with men. With the exception of these unusual psy- 
chological cases, such purely individualistic differences as the vision-seekers re- 
ported were only slight deviations from accepted patterns of visions. A man might 
learn a new song, a change in costume, or a new dance step, with which he might 
organize a religious cult to carry out the instructions given him by his guardian 

The Dakota had priests or shamans who gained their power through visions 
and visitations of the supernatural and through instruction by elders in songs 
and ritual. The priests interpreted omens, foretold future events, and served as 
ceremonial mediators between the people and the deities or recognized manifesta- 
tions of supernatural power. They instructed the candidates who were to perform 


in the great tribal ceremony, the Sun Dance. They directed the rites of this dance 
and made the prayers and offered the ceremonial pipe to the sun; but in the climax 
of the dance, when the dancers gazed straight into the sun, the priests stepped 
aside, giving the dancers complete control of the ceremony and the right to appeal 
directly to the sun. 

Wakan Tanka, whom the Dakota invoked for tribal and personal welfare and 
assistance, was not a deity or personified Great Spirit, as has been frequently 
assumed, but an all-pervasive, mysterious power. 3 It accounted for the appearance 
of the buffalo, the storms, exceptional bravery or wisdom in men, and peculiar 
and otherwise inexplicable behavior. Wakan Tanka encompassed all the Dakota 
deities, of whom the more important were Sun, the chief god; his comrade, Buf- 
falo; Sky, the god of power; Earth, the creative god; and Rock, the executive god. 
Sky and Earth had the male and female powers. There were also many lesser 
gods and spirits: the benevolent and malevolent gods, the associate gods, and the 
kindred gods. 

Although the Dakota had a greater systematization of their deities than did the 
other plains tribes, they did not conceive of a clear-cut divine hierarchy or organi- 
zation, nor did any one priest appear to be acquainted with all these who have 
been reported. 4 This lack of development of a systematized authoritative power 
which ordered the universe or demanded obedience seems in keeping with the 
religious emphasis of the Plains Indian: to acquire power for himself. 


The Dakota had many ceremonies invoking the supernatural power for the 
good of the tribe or of individuals. The pattern of the basic ritual and the arrange- 
ment of ceremonial objects appears to have been derived from a ceremony which, 
according to tradition, was performed by the White Buffalo Maiden, sent to the 
earth by the Buffalo Spirits. 5 This occurred, according to native calendrical count, 
at the time when the Teton-Dakota reached the high plains. 

When the White Buffalo Maiden first appeared, she requested that a tepee be 
placed in the center of the camp circle. In it were to be a fire, buffalo chips, a 
square of cleared earth on which was marked a white cross (indicating the four 
cardinal points in later ceremonies), a pipe rack, a painted buffalo skull, and, 
behind all these, the place of honor strewn with sage. 

When these preparations were made, she appeared from "where the sun rolls 
off the earth" and took the place of honor in the ceremonial ledge. She spoke first 
to the people as a group, then to the women, the children, the men, and the 
leaders, in turn, telling each their duties and admonishing them to lead exemplary 
lives and to show kindness, friendship, and consideration for others. Finally, the 
White Buffalo Maiden lit the ceremonial pipe she had brought, and after offering 


it to Sky, Earth, and Four Winds, gave it to the chief at her left. When she went 
out of the tepee, she turned into a white buffalo calf. 

The ceremonial fire, the buffalo skull, the earth square and sage, the sacred pipe, 
and the white buffalo skin became the ritual objects of the major Teton ceremo- 

The great religious ceremony to obtain divine blessing and strength for the 
people was the annual Sun Dance. This was performed by a number of bands 
or an entire subtribe gathering into a single encampment. The ceremony was 
actually a series of religious rituals and social affairs with various purposes, which 
together presented a pageant of the essential functions and values of Dakota 
culture. The climax was the Sun-gazing Dance performed by a few men, from 
which the name of the whole ceremony has been taken. The details and sequence 
of the rituals have been described fully by Walker. 6 It is necessary in our interest 
in the religious background and changes among the Dakota to understand the 
meanings of these rituals and the implication of their loss rather than the manner 
of their performance. As will be apparent in the following brief discussion, the 
loss of the ceremony has meant the loss also of sanctions of behavior and of social 
institutions, and the weakening of tribal unity and security, as well as the loss 
of strength and confidence from supernatural or divine support. 

The Sun Dance took place during two four-day periods in summer when 
the earth was fertile. The buffalo were fat, the wild berries ripe, the grass tall and 
green. There was much ritual feasting as acknowledgment that the people had 
had an abundance of food during the year. In several of the ceremonies the Buffalo 
Spirit was honored for food that he had sent and supplicated for continuance of 
his favors. Feasting was also an expression of the friendship and solidarity of the 

Fertility was ritualized by_a procession of the adults, in which the men sang in 
praise of Sky and the male element and the women praised Earth and the female 
element. This was followed by a day of sexual license and banter. Effigies of a 
man and a buffalo with exaggerated genitals representing two of the lesser deities 
were hung from the Sun Dance pole when it was erected, but at the end of the 
period of license these effigies were. shot down and the normal regulations on 
sexual behavior reirnposed. The whole ritual appears to have been an honoring 
of procreation and fecundity which perpetuated the tribe and then the symbolical 
driving of evil or licentiousness out of the camp. 7 

In the selecting, cutting-down, and erecting of the Sun Dance pole and in the 
choosing of its location, there were imitation rites of scouting, raiding, capturing, 
and celebrating victory, all of which were sanctions of making war. A similar 
performance was enacted in a mock capture of the dance candidates and ear- 


piercing ceremonialists. There were also races which stimulated competition 
among men to achieve personal war honors. 

It was during the Sun Dance ceremony that the men's societies performed their 
rituals and elected new members who had achieved honors during the past year. 
Members also took part in rituals of the general ceremony. One of their special 
function was to hold feasts and "give-aways," the distribution of property to the 
poor and unfortunate in honor of the people. In these society meetings and on 
other occasions when men had to prove their right to perform ceremonial func- 
tions, they recounted before others their feats in war or the coups which they had 
counted to establish their claim to honors and prestige. 

Women had societies for honoring adherence to the ideals of Dakota woman- 
hood. During the Sun Dance period a feast was held at which faithful wives and 
chaste maidens might attend. Every participant was subject to challenge by men 
who could disprove her claim to honorable conduct; if they were successful, the 
challenged woman's eating utensils were thrown out of the circle of women. 

A virgin of exceptional character was selected by the priests to fell the tree 
chosen for the Sun Dance pole. This was the greatest single honor which the tribe 
bestowed upon a woman. Three other maidens were selected to assist in cutting 
the tree. 8 

Recognition was also given to the women in other parts of the ceremony. 
Virtuous young girls were selected to bathe the wounds of the sun dancers, an act 
which was believed to insure these girls the love of some young man. Pregnant 
women and little children were thought to acquire special protection by gathering 
the small branches and twigs trimmed from the Sun Dance pole. On one evening 
all the people were enjoined to observe friendly and jovial relationships in their 
tepees, and the men were instructed to treat their wives with full equality and 

Children received attention, too, in a ritual known as the Ear-piercing Ceremo- 
ny. Parents who wished to honor their child or f ulfil a vow made when he was ill 
asked some medicine man or notable warrior to sponsor him and to pierce his 
ears. Before the actual ritual the director of the Sun Dance ceremony admonished 
the parents to train their children to be good Dakota. Children who had their 
ears pierced were regarded as having sacrificed themselves in much the same way 
as the dancers. In a sense, they were dedicated by their sponsors to loyalty to their 
kin and to the values of the people. 

With the exception of the ear-piercing, the last four days of the whole Sun 
Dance ceremony were devoted to the performance of the four grades of dances 
by which the chosen candidates sought to come into communication with the 
power of Sun and of Buffalo Spirit. The camp had to be cleansed by hunting 
down evil spirits, and those persons whose behavior in the past or at the ceremony 


might displease the gods were removed. Sun was met at each dawn and evening 
and supplicated with the ceremonial pipe for his favors. Dancing was postponed if 
his face was clouded. 

The dancers undertook various degrees of self-torture according to the grade of 
dance they chose. All fasted during the days and nights of the dance and were 
given only moist roots or leaves to quench their thirst. The most severe form of 
torture occurred on the last day, when the candidates of the fourth dance were 
suspended from the dance pole by thongs attached to wooden skewers thrust 
through their back and chest muscles. The bravest and most honored dancers 
were those who tore their flesh and freed themselves without assistance. Through- 
out this torture and the previous dances they gazed directly into the face of the 
Sun. This torture or sacrifice of one's body was the characteristic means of winning 
the favor of the gods and entering a direct relationship with them. The dancers 
sought not only to gain power from Sun a power by which they might become 
medicine men but also to fulfil a vow to dance made previously during the year, 
when they had called for supernatural aid during a war raid, a child's sickness, or 
similar crisis. 

Although the experience of the Sun-gazing Dance was personal for each candi- 
date, it was also an experience of all the spectators or the tribe, who identified 
themselves with the participants. They knew that the participants suffered for 
the group, so that all might receive the well-being that came directly from the 
supreme power that dwelt in Sun. 

In this whole Sun Dance ceremony there appears a tremendous social force and 
value for the perpetuation of Dakota life as well as the invocation of supernatural 
blessing for the tribe and the several participants. The religious value can be 
summarized as the attainment by all the people of power and strength from 
Wakan Tanka, the great reservoir of supernatural power, and the winning of 
divine favor for the continuance of the life of the tribe, especially for the con- 
tinuance of its food supply. The social value of the Sun Dance appears to have 
been the reaffirmation by each individual of membership in the tribe, the sense of 
security gained by camping and participating with the large number of people, 
and the re-establishment of solidarity among relatives from other bands. 

The ceremony publicly rewarded also the types of social behavior which were 
sanctioned by Dakota culture. The rituals sanctioned the economic occupations 
and roles of men and women, the training of children to become hunters and 
warriors or wives and homemakers, the begetting of children, the men's institu- 
tions, and acknowledgment of the gods and seeking their power. But, above all, 
the rituals sanctioned the great Dakota virtues of bravery, fortitude, generosity, 
and wisdom by calling upon their practice during the ceremony and rewarded 
the highest virtues of women industry, hospitality, kindness, and chastity among 


unmarried girls and fidelity and fecundity among wives. In the Sun Dance each 
member o the tribe saw in actual function or in ritualized imitation all the 
approved conduct and major social institutions and the rewarding of those who 
adhered to Dakota life. The Sun Dance was a drama of Dakota culture. In this 
highly emotional and intense atmosphere the adults rededicated themselves to the 
cultural precepts, and the young people received a vivid education in the meaning 
and objectives of the life they were to follow. 


The Sun Dance was prohibited in 1881 and was under official ban until 1933. 9 
It is not difficult to see the effect upon the Dakota of this action and of the pres- 
sures by the government and missionaries upon other parts of the old religion. 
With it were lost the feeling of having made contact with the supernatural, the 
gaining of a sense of power, and the winning of the help of the gods in providing 
food and protection to the people. That the Dakota felt helpless and overcome 
without supernatural help in meeting their unhappy situation is amply illustrated 
by the fervor with which many of them took up the Ghost Dance nine years later, 
to invoke divine assistance in overthrowing the whites and bringing back the old 

The prohibition of the Sun Dance took away not only much of the security 
which religion gave to the people but also the public rewarding and sanctioning 
of social life and social institutions. The ending of this reinforcement of the 
Dakota custom and the instruction of the young people by observation and partic- 
ipation contributed greatly to the weakening of social controls and the crumbling 
of Dakota culture. 

There is no evidence to show just how long after settlement on the reservation 
the young men continued to seek a guardian spirit, but we can safely assume the 
custom virtually disappeared among the first generation of reservation-born chil- 
dren. The young men had little need of obtaining power for hunting or warfare. 10 
The fact that they went to school, which supplanted much of the parental and 
community training and gave the boys new interests, rnay also have accounted for 
the decline of the vision quest. At the same time as the younger generation were 
receiving new training experiences, the men's societies and cults, which reinforced 
the vision quest, were losing their function. The shamans were dying off without 
passing on their lore or training successors. 11 These changes seems to have been 
both causative of, and resultant from, the abandonment of the general practice 
of seeking power. 


It was a great many years, however, before the majority of Pine Ridge Indians 
became Christians, in spite of the suppression of most of their native religious 


ceremonies. Their acceptance of Christianity was at first, and continues to be to 
some extent today, an acceptance of the deity of their conquerors and a search for 
his power, without complete abandonment of the old beliefs. As one early convert 

stated: "I found that their [whites'] Wakan Tanka the superior and have 

served Wakan Tanka according to the white people's manner and with all my 
power. I still have my wasicun [ceremonial pouch or bundle of a shaman], and I 
am afraid to offend it because the spirit of an Oglala may go to the spirit land of 
the Dakota." 12 The Christian God was identified somewhat with the Dakota 
supernatural power through the missionaries' practice of calling God "Wakan 
Tanka." The belief in the Wakan Tanka of the past still continues, as the existing 
native cults, to be described later, reveal. 

The Dakota also accepted Christianity because it was the one part of the white 
man's life in which the Indian was accepted as an equal. Christianity taught that 
all people were held to be the same before God. It taught that happiness could be 
attained in a life after death, a promise which may have given some hope to the 
Indians when most of their happiness was being taken away from them. Further- 
more, this teaching had some resemblance to the native belief in a "happy hunting 
ground" of the Indian dead. 

Some other beliefs andjymbols of Christianity could be readily understood by 
the Indians from concepts of their own religion. Asceticism, the torture of the 
crucifixion for the good of others, giving to others (especially the poor) , and the 
high honor accorded virginity were not unconnected Dakota beliefs and cultural 
values. The Dakota also interpreted some church practices in their own fashion 
to fit with the values of the old religion. For example, putting money into the 
collection plate on Sundays is still used as a means of giving honor to another 
person and gaining prestige for generosity in the native give-away pattern. An 
offering is made with as many small coins as possible, each given separately in 
order to increase the appearance of one's generosity. 13 

Chi-the. whcde.theJPj3kota were slow to accept Christianity. The missionaries 
created resistance by trying to eradicate all the native religion instead of using it 
as a frame of reference in whicKTo'Tntroduce Christianity. They attempted to 
impose Christian morality by suppressing Indian custom. One objective of their 
proselytizing was to "civilize" the Indian; and, to accomplish this, they tried to 
drive out indiscriminately Indian ways which had no relation to religion in the 
Indian mind. In this effort the missionaries influenced the Bureau of Indian 
Affairs to impose regulations against not only the Sun Dance but all ceremonies 
and Indian customs, which they believed impeded the progress of the Indians 
toward a civilized state. 14 

Such action naturally incurred the antagonism of many of the Indians. As a 
result, native religious practice was driven into hiding, and what remains of it 


today is kept from the eyes of all but a few friendly whites. Part of this secrecy is 
also due to the fact that native religion is often used for curing, and health au- 
thorities have strongly preached against these practices in favor of white medicine 
and sanitation. The extent of the belief and religious practice in so-called "pagan" 
cults is still more extensive than most missionaries and officials are willing to 

One of the chief sources of conflict, particularly to the missionaries, was the 
unwillingness of the Indians to accept marriage as a religious rite, to abandon 
polygamy, and to forgo the right of divorce in accordance with the tenets of the 
Catholic and Episcopal churches. Dakota marriages, except those of noted fam- 
ilies, involved no religious ritual or sanction. To make confession before the 
marriage rite in matters about which the couple felt no wrongdoing, to publish 
banns bringing public attention to the couple always a source of embarrassment 
to any Dakota and to make the marriage a public ceremony rather than a family 
matter transformed the wedding ritual in the two leading churches into an ordeal. 
Old people cautioned the young not to be married by a priest, lest they later 
be forced to choose between remaining with a mate they might find undesirable 
and breaking the law of the church by separating and marrying again. 

Although the moral code of Christianity concerning sex relations appears in 
harmony generally with that of the Dakota, they have hot accepted fully the 
Christian strictness or demand for chastity by both sexes before marriage. The 
old society did. not require continence of the young men; and, although virginity 
was desired among the young women, it appears to have been enforced prin- 
cipally among the daughters of prominent families. No great feeling of 
wrongdoing or sin appears to have developed over premarital sex relations or 
even pregnancy. Shame and loss of honor followed, and the family might move to 
another band to escape criticism. But if the unmarried mother married soon, the 
matter was forgotten. Christian standards and attitudes seemed to the Dakota 
harsh and overly upright in face of their own practices. 

Since the coming of the first missionaries among the Teton-Dakota sixty years 
ago, the resistance or indifference to Christianity has passed, and all the Pine Ridge 
Indians profess belief in Christianity and nominal membership in some church. 
All but a few of the very oldest people have been born on this or some other res- 
ervation or in a white community and have attended school where religious 
education was conducted by local missionaries and by many of the schoolteachers. 
The Indians accept now most of the principles of Christianity, the ritual, and the 
sacred calendar and symbols. This has been part of their general acceptance of 
white life. The process of religious change has been the'dying-out of the old native 
religion before the full acceptance of Christianity as the religion of the people. As 
long as there was a body of older people trained and experienced in the native 


rituals and led by the native priests or medicine men, the resistance to Christianity 

The acceptance of Christianity by the Dakota cannot be considered a real sub- 
stitution of one religion for another. The younger generations learned less of the 
old religion and had fewer native religious leaders, while they learned more of 
Christianity from childhood. The absence of a real or direct substitution is em- 
phasized here because there is now much in the churches and religious life which 
has the function of old religious form and ritual but became a part of the Dakota 
life only in recent years. 

The church has ceremonies for the transition from one stage of life to another, 
known in social science as the rites of passage, for some of which the Dakota 
culture also had ceremonies. There was no direct substitution of one for the other 
but the passing of Dakota rites with one generation and the acceptance of Chris- 
tian ceremonies by a second generation. 

In the Dakota culture there was no special ceremony at birth. The naming of a 
child took place often at the Ear-piercing Ceremony. At puberty boys received no 
ceremonial attention, but a few years afterward they were sent on a vision quest. 
Some girls, after their first menstruation, received the Buffalo Ceremony, dedi- 
cated to the buffalo-god, the patron of womanly virtues. This ceremony was 
performed to aid the good influences which surrounded the girl at this time, to 
continue their effect upon her, to banish all evil influence, and to inculcate in her 
the virtues for which Dakota womanhood was respected, as well as to announce 
her physical maturity. The elaborate Buffalo Ceremony was abandoned in the 
nineteenth century, but a simple ritual was conducted by many families on the 
reservation until recent years. 

The marriage ceremony has been described as a social and family affair. Elab- 
orate weddings were held only by f amilies of importance to honor their children 
and to give away much property. At these ceremonies a priest performed at a 
special altar a ritual in which a deity of the Dakota was called upon to bless the 

union. 15 

At the death of an individual, his relatives and friends gathered at his tepee to 
mourn. The women spent four days in intermittent wailing. Parents often gashed 
themselves or severed a finger to express their grief. A bereaved father might 
wander from camp, singing a death song, to shoot down the first person whom he 
met and then kill himself. A give-away of the family's property to the mourners 
was a part of the funeral ceremony, and another give-away ended the year of 
mourning. This rite might be elaborated into the Keeping of the Ghost Ceremony, 
whereby a lock of hair was kept as a symbol of the deceased for a year; at the end 
of this period, beautiful beadwork and other articles made by the mother were 
given away, as well as family possessions. 

;;)? ;7,j ,.vf. . 
j$Sh&^ ., 


These life-crisis ceremonies, except those connected with death, have now been 
abandoned. The Ear-piercing and Buffalo Spirit ceremonies had not been per- 
formed among any of the children whose life-histories were gathered for this 
study. Mekeel attended a native wedding ceremony in the Oglala community in 
1931 at which a shaman performed the religious rites, and dog meat, a traditional 
ceremonial food, was eaten to distinguish the ceremony from a Christian wed- 
ding, at which chicken is regarded as appropriate. 16 No native wedding cere- 
monies were reported in 1942. 

The Christian rites are now accepted for the life-crises of the individuals. Bap- 
tism is usual for babies born today. Puberty rites as such are nonexistent, but 
confirmation or joining the church is made an important celebration among the 
young people. Graduation exercises from both the primary and the secondary 
school are also now important, though not sacred, ceremonies for Dakota young 
people and their families. 

Christian marriage is still strongly encouraged by the churches, but the full 
ceremony with invited guests and feast or reception afterward is accepted mostly 
by the townsfolk or assimilated country people. The majority of Pine Ridge In- 
dians prefer a quiet civil marriage. 

The pattern of the old funeral ceremonies the wailing, the four-day mourning, 
and the give-away after the burial and at the end of a year's mourning is still 
practiced, but self-torture has long been abandoned or suppressed. As in the old 
days, widows and bereaved mothers and sisters usually cut their hair short as 
soon as a death has occurred, and those who do not are severely criticized. The 
minister of the local church is asked to conduct services, and the body is buried 
with the church ceremony. The give-away and final feast by the relatives of the 
deceased follows the burial and often takes place at the church community house 
or in the churchyard. 

The Dakota formerly placed their dead upon a scaffold. When the govern- 
ment and missionaries wished them to inter corpses, they objected strongly, be- 
lieving it would interfere with the passage of the spirit to the land of the dead. 17 
Burial in a cemetery is now universally practiced. The Dakota celebrate Memorial 
Day as a time to refurbish the graveyard, clearing the graves of weeds and wind- 
blown debris and decorating them with new bouquets or wreaths of paper 
flowers. Such attention to the dead is entirely new, and it is highly significant that 
greater attention is paid to the death rites than to any other in the life-cycle. 

Missionary work and churches have been established on the reservation for 
many years by the Roman Catholic, the Episcopal, and the Presbyterian churches. 
The principal Protestant churches and missionary headquarters are in the town 
of Pine Ridge. The Episcopal church has a large number of community churches 


and several Indian ministers and lay readers in the reservation districts. The Cath- 
olics operate from Holy Rosary Mission north of Pine Ridge town, sending priests 
to the community churches on week ends. One priest conducts services in the 
Pine Ridge town church and devotes all his services to this parish. The Catholic 
church is the only religious group which conducts a school on the reservation, but 
the Episcopalians maintain in the state a boarding school for Sioux children. 

The Catholics conduct a summer Bible school for children at the mission, pri- 
marily for religious instruction and recreation but also as a means of interesting 
new students for the winter session of the boarding school. The other churches 
have Bible schools at some of their community churches. Both the Catholic and the 
Episcopal churches hold large summer conventions or convocations attended by 
delegates and a large number of church members. These gatherings are held 
annually, but, since they include all the Sioux reservations, Pine Ridge is the 
meeting place only once in every seven or eight years. Although, of course, no 
Indian ceremonial is a part of these meetings, the summer gathering of friends 
and relatives from different parts of the reservation and the camping in tents give 
the convocations some of the social function of the old Sun Dance. 

The services and organization of the community churches, as observed in the 
Kyle area, follow closely the pattern of small rural churches of white communi- 
ties. The visiting priest conducts Mass in the two Catholic chapels and administers 
the marriage, funeral, and other personal rites of the church. An Indian minister 
lives in a parish house beside the Episcopal church in one community and serves 
the church in a second community on alternate Sundays. Indian Episcopal lay 
readers conduct morning prayer and, in the manner of former Indian elders, 
occasionally indulge in unsanctioned sermons, discussing the behavior of church 
people, the Peyote cult, or community social situations. 

The social organization of the membership of Episcopal and Catholic churches 
is similar, but the Episcopalian communities seem to be more active under local 
leadership. They have full Sunday services and a weekly evening meeting of 
prayer for the men in the armed services. There is also Sunday school and a young 
people's fellowship which meets on Saturday afternoons for religious instruction 
and group socials. The Sacred Heart Society of the Catholics has a similar league 
for young people. Both churches conduct women's guilds for stimulating home 
improvement and teaching home crafts. The Episcopal church also had at one 
time a men's brotherhood, but its activity seems to have ended with the death of 
its lay leader. 

Individuals in the rural communities all tend to join one church, especially if 
there is any common bond of a band origin. It was noted that, in many families, a 
Catholic or a Protestant has joined the church of the other upon marriage. In one 
family a Catholic mother became an Episcopalian, but her Episcopalian daughter 


became a Catholic upon her marriage. Children in one family may be divided in 
church membership between Catholic and Protestants without conflict. How- 
ever, in 1943, in school and community meetings led by a minister, the children 
who were not of the same religious following were observed to remain outside. 
This stimulation of competition and exclusiveness in church groups, developed 
under white leadership among a single and once strongly integrated people, has 
been injurious to social cohesion and has brought confusion and criticism among 
the Indians. 

The evangelical type of church has not made much headway on the reservation. 
Occasionally, Seventh-Day Adventist and Church of God preachers come from 
Rapid City to seek followers or to establish a new church. In Kyle these visitors 
are well accepted, possibly out of curiosity and as sources of entertainment, for the 
people enjoy group singing and the emotional participation of these evangelists' 
meetings. They make a strong appeal through the prayers for the sick and their 
particular emphasis on divine cure. There is much discussion of such experiences 
as a cure resulting from a two-day community prayer and the healing of a 
woman taken to Rapid City in order that a white congregation might pray for 
her life. Consciously or unconsciously, these preachers follow the Indian pattern 
in making friends and establishing themselves in the good graces of the com- 
munity by making many gifts, but they have established no permanent churches. 
These outside sects, especially the Pentacostal, have yet made little appeal to the 
full-bloods in spite of their interpretation of the deity as a power who cures the 
sick and controls the lives of individuals in a very personal way. 

One church of this sort without affiliation to any organized sect is struggling 
for membership and recognition in Pine Ridge town. It seems to appeal to the 
mixed-blood and more assimilated group, however, as it does to the poorer and 
less stable whites, because of the definite security and authority of God which it 
offers. As an institution of lower-class membership and outside the long-estab- 
lished church group, it is subjected to informal ostracism by the other local 
churches and the government employees. 


Certain religious cults that do not stem from Christianity, at least in forms 
recognized by white society, are practiced on the reservation. There are also 
surviving some remnants of the practices of medicine men. 

The only continuing cult of the old Dakota religion is the Yuwipi meeting, 
whose ceremonials and function in the old culture have scarcely been touched 
upon in the ethnological literature. 18 This cult worships manifestations of four 
chief Dakota gods and invokes supernatural power for curing the sick and occa- 


sionally for finding lost articles. In discussing the beliefs of the Yuwipi cult, an 
older member stated that they believed in "the Sun and the Daylight that is 
Wakan, our god [the chief god]. Then, we worship Darkness [the creator god] ; 
this is why we sit in darkness in the tepee at a Yuwipi ceremony. The women 
think of sexual things and later they go home with their men. That is creative; 
that is not bad; the Darkness is holy. Then, there is Rock [the executive god]. The 
leaders have a little bundle of sticks in their hand when they are tied up and a 
blanket is thrown over them. The Rock makes sparks and lightning shoots all 
over the tepee. The Rock is hard and steadfast and that is what our faith must be. 
It is like the earth. Then, there is Wakinyan or Heyoka [an associate god]. It 
flashes through the sky, and storms come, and strong winds, and floods that wash 
away the soil. The Yuwipi people say that is cleansing them and cleansing the 
earth. Wakan washes away everything and makes everything clean and new." 

The objective of the Yuwipi ritual is the calling of the spirits, or "little people," 
who live about the countryside, to advise the medicine man in curing or finding 
lost articles. 19 The ceremony is held in a cabin completely darkened while the 
medicine man performs magical feats and calls in the spirits. Sounds of knocking 
stones, strange noises, and flashing lights appear in all parts of the room as the 
spirits respond. The medicine man talks to them, while four men drum and sing. 
Suddenly all the sounds stop and the medicine man recounts to the group, before 
the lamps are relit, the cures and information learned from the spirits. 

Before the ceremony begins, the medicine man is bound very tightly by others 
and placed under a blanket. Those who have requested his services place offerings 
around the altar or platform where the medicine man is bound. When the lights 
go on, he is standing, free from his bindings, and the offerings have disappeared. 

In Kyle, only one Yuwipi practitioner was reported during the period of this 
study. Because he feared that his supernatural power might bring some ill effects 
upon his family, he did not remain with them much of the time. His wife and 
daughters were good Catholics. The father traveled much to conduct ceremonies 
in other communities. The renown of his psychic power had spread over the 
countryside, attracting both Indians and whites, who had come to him for 
various reasons, from seeking a cure for appendicitis to finding a stolen horse. 

Despite the fact that the practices of medicine men were long banned by Indian 
Service regulations and condemned by missionaries along with other native 
customs believed to impede the "civilization" of the Indian, some of the prac- 
tices have survived, and medicine men and herbalists still prescribe for the sick. 
The work of these minor religious practitioners is mainly on an individual or 
family basis. The extent of their practice, like that of midwives, is hard to deter- 
mine, because both performers and recipients are afraid of white censure. 



The Native American church, or Peyote cult, has members in many of the 
reservation communities. This excellent example o an institution produced in 
acculturation developed in the United States years ago on the southern plains 
from an old Mexican religion which centered around the use of the mildly intoxi- 
cating peyote plant. 20 Native and Christian beliefs and rituals are combined into a 
religion closely related to Sioux religious attitudes. The cult is based on invocation 
of power from a supreme being the Peyote Spirit, who appears to be identified 
with the Christian deity symbolized by the peyote button or seed pod of the cac- 
tus plant. The eating of peyote induces a trance, an experience not unlike that 
induced in the old vision quests, in which the seeker of a guardian spirit attempted 
to get outside himself or into an abnormal state. 21 The eating of peyote and 
participation in the ceremony are believed to bring one in direct relation with 
the supernatural, but they are not believed to provide any personal power like 
that formerly obtained from a guardian spirit. 

The ritual of the Peyote cult is conducted with members sitting in a circle in a 
large tepee erected for the ceremony. A fire burns before a small crescent-shaped 
altar. Tobacco is ritually smoked as a means of communicating prayers. A special 
drum is passed to each member to accompany his peyote songs. As in the Sun 
Dance, the sacred number is four. 

This cult, like the old Dakota religion, delves into the realm of curing, one of 
its chief drawbacks from the point of view of outsiders and practitioners of 
modern medicine. The eating or drinking of peyote in a broth as a universal 
cure-all keeps many people in need of modern medicine or surgery away from the 
hospital. This is particularly serious for sick children, who have no choice in the 
matter; Indian Service doctors have stated to the writer that it is extremely difficult 
to treat pneumonia cases where the child has been previously fed peyote. It may 
also make employment of anesthetics before surgical operations dangerous. 

The Peyote cult has been criticized for this practice, but the chief point of attack 
has been on the use of peyote itself^ because of the state of lethargy and inactivity 
which constant use is said to induce. The Christian churches look upon the cult as 
a heretic and even pagan organization which they wish the government to aid in 
stamping out. Indian nonmembers of the cult on Pine Ridge Reservation gen- 
erally regard it as a menace that causes laziness and depletes families* wealth. 
Many habitual users of peyote do become irresponsible and unable to care for 
themselves and their families. Members of the cult, as hosts to a number of cere- 
monies, purchase the peyote and the food that is eaten afterward, thereby dem- 
onstrating their hospitality and generosity. Because this giving is made to and 
approved by only a small group, the social prestige gained by a peyote host is 


slight, but such expenditure is often economically detrimental to his family as 
well as to himself. 

The physical effects of peyote still remain a disputed point. Peyote of itself has 
probably worked little injury, but the behavior associated with the religion, stem- 
ming from cultural and psychological causes, can be harmful. The Pine Ridge 
people who partake of peyote appear to be individuals psychologically disposed to 
find some way of escape from their social environment. The cult appeals to those 
who, seeking to preserve the Indian way of life, find in the ceremonies the sym- 
bols and behavior which permit them, for a night at least, to return to the old 
life and escape the white man and all the pains of cultural change. The cult is 
also an escape from the poverty and depressing effects of reservation life. In this 
connection an interesting comment was made by a former peyote user, who said, 
"You feel very pleasant. You can sit and watch the government employees drive 
by, and it doesn't bother you at all." 

The Peyote cult carries also influence for good, whether looked at from the 
Indian or white point of view. It teaches a strict sexual morality and abstinence 
from liquor. As an incorporated church, it places regulations upon marriage and 
divorce practices, bringing new strength to the lax social controls outside the 
church groups. The cult has been criticized for permitting sexual license during 
or after ceremonies. This is not a part of the belief of the cult nor practiced by its 
serious followers, as far as information on hand can tell us. It is possible that 
young men attend the meetings to seduce women who become pleasantly relaxed 
and lose some control of their emotions, but this cannot be blamed upon the 
religion. This is a point of which only long investigation can reveal the truth or 

In Kyle the Peyote cult has only a small regular following, but at times it in- 
creases when a member becomes active in organizing meetings and provides the 
necessary peyote, which is purchased outside the state. During 1942 Peyote cere- 
monies were held in Kyle to cure the sick and to honor a returned soldier. In the 
latter case, the Dakota utilized the Peyote meeting for the completely Dakota 
social purpose of honoring. 

In Pine Ridge town the Peyote cult was not reported as functioning. This may 
be due partly to the influence of the several churches and partly to the lack of 
appeal of Indian ritual and the escapist satisfactions of the Peyote cult to the 
assimilated townsfolk. Just outside Pine Ridge the cult is practiced by a group of 
rather incompetent and frustrated full-bloods. 

The Peyote cult does not seem to be reaching many of the younger generation. 
In the first place, the ceremonies last all night, and the younger children are not 
taken. In Kyle the older children in our study who came from families reputed to 


be members of the cult expressed a strong condemnation for the practice. In the 
group outside Pine Ridge under the leadership of a former Catholic catechist, a 
special children's group has been organized after the pattern of the established 
churches. The leaders of the Peyote cult have also talked of giving instruction 
to the younger members in school during a religious period, but as yet they have 
taken no action. 


Belonging to a Christian church and attending Peyote or Yuwipi ceremonies 
bring no conflict to the Indian mind. Individuals pass from one group to another 
as the personalities of the leaders appeal to them or neighbors report unusual 
success in curing. The old sanctions of freedom of individual behavior within a 
certain prescribed area and the old informality of Dakota organization still allow 
individuals a great deal of choice in their religion. 

* The shifting from one religion to another of apparently conflicting concepts 
becomes more understandable when it is realized that there are certain elements 
fundamental in the native pre-Christian religion which are carried over into the 
contemporary religions. The first is the continuous seeking of divine power for 
strength and assistance in meeting the problems of earthly life. An adjunct is the 
specific use of this power for curing. The second is the seeking of social interaction 
and social participation which gives to the individual a sense of security and 
membership in a larger group not attained regularly in other institutions. The 
third is the sanctioning of a moral code. 

The Yuwipi cult appears to be organized primarily for the purpose of curing. 
But the power of the old deities comes to the assembled group to give them 
strength, cleanse them of evil, and continue their fecundity. 

The Peyote cult is also a curing religion. Its regular meetings, however, are not 
held expressly for the sick but to gain power or strength from the Christian God 
through native or imported Indian ritual devices. The Peyote cult sanctions the 
Dakota mode of social relationships but emphasizes also aspects of puritanical 
morality taken from white culture. 

Without detracting from the work of early and contemporary Pine Ridge mis- 
sionaries, it can be said in all fairness that much of the significance which Chris- 
tianity holds has come from its interpretation by the Dakota in terms of their 
former religion. Similarly, the church organizations have become significant as 
they have supplied a center around which band organization and integration 
could continue. The first generations of converts transkted Christianity into the 
Dakota way of life. Owing to conflicts between the Christian and Dakota moral 
code and the condemnation of all Dakota custom because it was related to pagan- 


ism and uncivilized life, Christianity gained little authority at first over Dakota 
morality and social life. In the general process of assimiliation, it is the younger 
generations which have accepted CEnstiamty '*&- sanctioning force of white 

moral behavior. -- - - - . 


The so-called "pagan" cults today also offer a security which the usual Christian 
critic does not understand. Each oldest generation in the full-blood group seems 
to be the last which will carry on the native or seminative religious practice, but, 
as each generation grows older, it seems to accept and practice more of the old 
rituals and beliefs. On the whole, however, each succeeding generation has a little 
less interest, a little less acceptance, and a little less knowledge of the beliefs and 
rites that stem from the past. Under the pressure of the churches, the increasing 
knowledge of modern medicine, the fear of white criticism, and the general 
process of assimilation, the old religious practices seem bound for extinction. 

The Peyote cult has a certain strength because it is fighting for survival. As an 
escapist cult and lacking prestige among the other churches, it may die eventually. 
But because it answers many of the psychological and religious needs of the 
people, it probably will continue as long as the basic Dakota religious values and 
traditional forms of spiritual experience are maintained. 

Most of the Dakota ceremonies and the pantheon are gone, except for the 
vestige remaining in the Yuwipi cult and the practices of a few medicine men. 
Although it is doubtful that more than a small minority of the people today make 
a practice of attending Yuwipi meetings, this native cult will probably continue 
for a long time, for there is always an element of any population which believes in 
and enjoys magic. The hold which the past Indian life has on most of the people 
adds it effect also to the preservation of native religion. Even so, Yuwipi practices 
will doubtless decrease in influence as contacts with the world outside the reserva- 
tion grow stronger. 

The Christian churches, too, appear to be losing some of their former hold as 
the Dakota travel and associate more intimately and easily with white people. 
This is due in part to the fact that many Indians are now following the trend of 
the local white population away from control by the church. 


1. See Robert H. Lowie, Primitive Religion (New York: Boni & Liveright, 1924), chap. xi. 

2. Ibid. 

3. Royal B. Hassrick, "Teton-Dakota Religion" (MS). 

4. J. R. Walker, The Sun Dance and Other Ceremonies of the Oglala Division of the Teton Dakota 
(New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1917), p. 56. 

5. This ceremony is described fully in Frances Densmore, Teton Sioux Music (U.S. Bureau of 
American Ethnology Bull. 61 [Washington, 1918]), pp. 63-66. 

6. Op. cit., pp. 60-120. 


7. Dcnsmore learned from informants in 191 1 that the effigies symbolized the enemy and the buffalo 
which had been captured by supernatural help. She reports none of the sexual symbols or ritual (op. 
"/., p. 118). 

8. Ibid., p. 113. 

9. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Regulations Effective April 1, 1904 (Washington, 1904), 

sec. 584, and "Circular Letter 2970" (Washington, 1934). 

10. It is interesting and significant to note that young Dakota purchased personal medicine bundles 
for power and protection before going into the armed forces in 1942 and 1943. 

11. Medicine men have not, however, passed from the contemporary scene (see below). 

12. Walker, op. /., p. 159. 

13. Scudder Mekeei, personal correspondence. 

14. U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Regulations , 1884 and Regulations 1904. 

15. Scudder Mekeei, "A Modern American Community in the Light of Its Past" (MS). 

16. Scudder Mekeei, personal correspondence. 

17. Clark Wisslef 4 North American Indians of the Plains (New York: American Museum of 
Natural History, 1934), p. 96. 

18. Densmore (pp. cit., pp. 204-18) describes the elements of the Yuwipi ritual (shooting stones, 
binding the practitioner) in the practices of the old medicine men. 

19. The "little people" were reported by Lewis and Clark in the nineteenth century. No ethno- 
logical accounts known to the author describe them or the whole Yuwipi practice. 

20. For a full discussion of peyotism see Omer C. Stewart, Washo-Northern Paiute Peyotism 
(Berkeley and Los Angeles, Calif.: University of California Press, 1944). 

21. Ruth Benedict, Patterns of Culture (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1935), p. 81. 

K gO C<0 gO gO gO gO 


^^^^^-S^^%fr^S^->)) ) ) gO gfrMEMeMgMKfr gO gO gfrSg 

IN REVIEWING the historical experiences of the Pine Ridge Dakota and the 
changes in their physical environment, basic economy, social organization, 
and religious beliefs, little reference has been made to the particular genera- 
tion living at the time these changes occurred. Three generations have been born 
on the reservation since the Oglala and Brule first came to Pine Ridge, and each 
has grown up in a different atmosphere. Only the oldest people living today have 
experienced directly the whole effect of the reservation era. The cumulative effect 
of reservation life, social disorganization, and assimilation has been transmitted 
in part by the older generations to the younger ones, but each generation has been 
oriented by the particular times of their childhood and early youth. As Mekeel 
was the first to demonstrate, people born in different eras of Pine Ridge history 
hold widely differing attitudes. 1 It is necessary to elaborate on these differences 
in attitudes in order to understand the kind of adjustments which the people are 
making and particularly to understand the orientation of the youngest generation, 
our especial interest. 

The great majority of the oldest living generation were born on Pine Ridge or 
some other reservation. A few people who are nearing or have passed eighty the 
great-grandparents of the present children lived as children in the old camps and 
traveled freely over the plains. The boys hunted a few buffalo with their fathers, 
but they were not old enough to participate in the last of the Indian wars. A few 
of the grandparent generation hunted buffalo also, but for most of them the 
earliest memories are associated with the camp circles at the Agency or ration 
stations. There are also several survivors of the massacre at Wounded Knee and 
men and women who remember clearly the event and the feelings it aroused. 

The key to the attitudes of the contemporary grandparent generation is the fact 
that they were trained by parents and grandparents who had participated in buf- 
falo hunts and war parties and the great camp circles of the Sun Dance. These 
parents and grandparents experienced defeat, or at least subjugation, at the hands 



of the whites; but they could not appreciate that the Dakota way of life was 
doomed. Hence, the first adults on the reservation instilled in their children the 
belief that the customs, values, and glories of Dakota life were the best, and the 
best for all young Dakota. It is not surprising to find that today these young 
people, now become the grandparents and the old men and women of the reserva- 
tion, still cling to Dakota tradition and custom. 

The grandparents in their youth dispersed with their own parents from the 
band camps to settle on family farms, but they kept up the social integration of 
the band group and continued to conform to the Dakota mode of social behavior. 
These older people knew the last of the chiefs and the exercise of native authority 
and controls. They had some of the old childhood rites, such as the Ear-piercing 
and Buffalo ceremonies, performed over them. They married by the old customs 
and appear to have remained more frequently with one mate throughout life 
than have their sons and daughters. They respected the old sanctions and believe 
in many of them today. Even though they changed in their economic life, when 
the old economy had been swept from under them, they preserved many of the 
social aspects of the old culture through the momentum which had been started 
in their childhood training. They experienced receiving all their food from gov- 
ernment rations for many years, but they were also able to give up rations and live 
almost completely by their own efforts in raising cattle. 

The grandparents of today accepted Christianity as young people or have come 
to accept it in their old age. Probably only a few saw the last Sun Dance as chil- 
dren, but many attended the curing rites of the medicine men. Many were taught 
the beliefs of the old religion by their parents, and some were trained as medicine 
men and women, though not as priests for tribal ceremonies. With this religious 
background and the strong religious and moral education which many of them 
received at school, those who became Christians did so with more spiritual fervor 
than most of the Christian Indians of the younger Dakota generations. 

The important training in moral code, however, came from the old virtues 
of Dakota life. As children they were taught to be brave, to fight against odds if 
need be, and not to run away without honor. Honor could be had by outwitting 
and by stealth as well as by dashing openly into combat. The inculcation of 
bravery in facing even the unknown is well described by Luther Standing Bear, 
who as a boy went off to school at Carlisle expecting that he would have to fight 
the white men and die far from his own people but that in doing so he would 
honor his father and himself as he had been taught. 2 

Fortitude, the second great virtue of the Dakota, was closely related to bravery. 
It was not only courage in battle but the enduring courage which enabled them 
to accept long hardships and to suffer pain and the self-inflicted tortures of their 


ceremonials. This quality of fortitude has sustained the people through much of 
the adversity and years of poverty on the reservation. 

The third virtue, gSflgrosity, was one of the bases of behavior among one's own 
kindred. The "give-away," a dramatic ceremony of distributing all of one's own 
belongings, was a means of honoring others and gaining social prestige. By 
making gifts in the name of a child or deceased member of the family, a relative 
showed his love or his grief. He was also acclaimed and respected by his people, 
and especially by the recipients of the gifts, according to the amounts he gave and 
to the degree to which he impoverished himself. Such a system functioned with- 
out permanently ruining the givers, for everyone gave and in turn received 'gifts 
at subsequent ceremonies. One might also ask for articles of clothing or equip- 
ment from persons to whom gifts had been made. 

The oldest generation retains the feeling of the necessity of making gifts to 
express the affection and ties they feel for others, and they have criticized those 
who have followed the white man's way of not giving. Generosity has continued 
to be an important virtue among the Dakota in spite of .their poverty in the last 
twenty-five years and the great pressure of the government and missionaries to 
abandon the extremes of the give-away custom. 

The fourth virtue of Dakota life is sometimes termed "^[isdojn" and sometimes 
"moral integrity." 3 Both were certainly ideals of manly behavior. Old men were 
expected to be wise and composed, and those who spoke well and showed good 
insight and judgment were elected to the councils. In the family the grandfathers 
were respected for their wisdom and were expected to pass it on to their grandsons. 
The present grandparents have tried to exercise this role; but, because their 
values come from the old culture and they do not understand many pointsT of 
white behavior, they have not won the great respect accorded the old people in the 
former society. 

Moral integrity based on the Dakota code has not been clearly defined. Cer- 
tainly honesty and keeping one's word among one's people were qualities highly 
respected. A thief in his own group was highly disapproved and punished; in 
fact, reports of persons stealing from their own groups are rare. In a small camp 
where generosity was so prevalent, property had little personal value, and a man's 
own belongings were so well known by everyone that theft was unlikely to be- 
come common practice. However, stealing from the enemy was a virtue by which 
a warrior gained prestige. 

These four virtues have always been described as those of the men. The same 
standards applied to women but in a slightly different way. In accepting hardship 
and suffering pain, even to the point of suppressing all outcries in childbirth, the 
women learned to show fortitude as well as the men. The ideals of womanly be- 


havior are epitomized in the speech of the White Buffalo Maiden to the women 
in the ceremony described in chapter vii. 

"Wakan Tanka intends that you shall bear much sorrow comfort others in 
time of sorrow. By your hands the family moves. You have been given the 
knowledge of making clothing and of feeding the family. Wakan Tanka is with 
you in your sorrows and joins you in your griefs. He has given you the gift of 
kindness toward every living creature on earth. You he has chosen to have a 
feeling for the dead who are gone. He knows that you remember them longer 
than do the men. He knows that you love your children dearly." 4 

The sexual morality upheld by the churches coincides with the Dakota ideals 
of sexual behavior for women and has therefore been easily and willingly accepted 
by the older women. They also carry their former participation in religious 
ceremonies into regular church attendance. 


The oldest generation, trained as they were by the last members of the func- 
tioning Dakota culture, have maintained most of the attitudes which this culture 
inculcated, but the influence of early training and contact with whites was also 
profound. Some of the grandparents of today attended Carlisle Institute, the all- 
Indian school established in 1879 in Pennsylvania, and lived with white families 
during summer vacations in an "outing" system set up to teach them white 
farming and household practices. The majority, however, had very little educa- 
tion, usually not beyond the sixth grade. They were introduced to white ways of 
making a living by government employees who were sent onto the reservation to 
instruct them in blacksmithing, carpentry, and stock-raising. 

The cowboy who roamed wid*4he^j^atjgat^ of Dakota 

and Nebraska was oneof the chief new culture-bearers. Of all the whites the 
Indians knew, the cowboy, who was theireqiial as a horseman and marksman, 
who lived in the out-of-doors, who moved independently and without fear of the 
Indian, made the greatest appeal. Into this type of life much in the activity of 
Dakota men could be transmitted. The cowboy made the cattle economy seem 
attractive, and this generation of Indians soon adopted it avidly. They prospered 
with their herds and made an excellent transition to the life of the white plains- 

This experience is important in the redevelopment of the cattle industry at the 
present time, for it is the old people who encourage their sons to take up cattle- 
raising and especially encourage their grandsons to build up cattle herds while 
in school. In some communities the grandfathers, who know the advantages o 
raising cattle, have Urged their grandsons to keep cattle given them or earned at 


school, in opposition to fathers, who advised their boys to sell and spend the 
cash return. 


The grandparents were able and willing to accept a new economy by which 
they were regaining security and a sense o self-reliance. They were approaching 
a satisfactory degree of acculturation when the cattle and land sales from 1916 to 
"1922 undermined most of the life they had built. The subsequent poverty and 
sickness and the return to complete economic dependency upon the government 
brought to them a sense of futility in following the white man's economy or ac- 
cepting the white man's advice. To the so-called "New Deal" program of self- 
government and Indian management of economic enterprise, the old people are 
typically reactionary. Many of this generation, with some younger leaders opposed 
to the government, have organized a political group called the "Old Dealers." 
"The hostility of the old people is not to changes from Indian to white life but to 
any change (especially threatened or anticipated changes) from the type of reser- 
1 vation life with allotments and direct government supervision, in which they had 
found some security. Even the revival of Indian handicrafts and art and the 
removal of restrictions upon Indian customs and religious ceremonies have not 
been received entirely as recognition of Indian culture or restoration of rights 
and liberties. Many of the old people have so thoroughly accepted the attitudes of 
teachers and missionaries of thirty and forty years ago that they feel a return to 
Indian custom is backsliding. 

This attitude does not appear consistent with previous statements that the old 
people dream of a return to the old life. Individuals and groups of all races are 
never consistently logical or entirely rational, and the Dakota are no exception. 
Faced with specific acts or circumstances, the older Dakota appreciate the reality 
and the implications of the situation. But in their total situation in which they 
have experienced two almost overwhelming defeats, they have sought a psy- 
chological release in a very unrealistic dream of a life in which all the old freedoms 
and pleasures are regained and all the suffering and burdens are cast off along 
with the restrictions imposed by whites. 


The attitudes of the next generation differ to a considerable degree from those 
of their elders because the younger men had less training for Dakota life in child- 
hood and as adults have not experienced the cowboy life or satisfactions of the 
cattle economy. 

This generation went to school, usually to boarding schools. But since they 
usually started when they were ten or twelve, they had time to go through only 
some of the elementary grades. They learned the white man's work and house- 


keeping; but, as it was far removed from the actual needs or conditions of their 
homes and was usually based on necessary maintenance of the school plants, it 
proved to be inadequate training for making a living on the reservation. The 
schools forbade the use of Indian language and enforced strict discipline. When 
students returned to their homes, where control was not exerted by strict dis- 
cipline, they often became behavior problems to their parents. The older present- 
day parents recall the former military rule and regulations somewhat unpleas- 
antly, but many believe such school discipline desirable for children "to make 
them obey." 

The outlook on life of the second generation has been greatly conditioned by 
the years of cattle and land sales and land-leasing, when their families were 
comparatively wealthy, and the subsequent years of poverty and hardship. The 
greater security of their childhood and the luxuries enjoyed just when they were 
starting out in life or had families of small children were lost, and for this they 
are now likely to blame the government, whose lack o foresight was one of the 
prime reasons for their plight. This antagonism toward the government has not 
decreased in the years since 1922 when they began returning to dependency upon 
government aid for their livelihood. 

The loss of the cattle economy and the cowboy life for which the men of this 
generation were trained as children is closely related to an important need to 
have a role and function which gives the men importance in their own eyes and 
in the eyes of their people and of the whites. Hence, the opportunity to make a 
living, to have property, and to be independent of "charity" or government sup- 
port attracts some of them now to become cattle operators. 

Many Indians, however, have become discouraged over the possibilities of a 
satisfactory and permanent life derived from the land. The cumulative experience 
of the sale of the herds in the past, the continual loss of land resources by reduction 
on the reservation, the sales of allotments, the many failures of Indians who were 
encouraged to borrow money and enter dry farming during the 1920's, and the 
* drought and successive failures of crops and cattle herds during the 1930*s have 
created much doubt as to the wisdom of attempting to live by the land resources 

Another attitude which is slowing the acceptance of a cattle economy is the 
inclination toward wage work. This type of work brings an immediate return 
and solves the present problem of living, whereas entering the stock business 
requires waiting for at least two or three years before receiving any adequate 
returns. For people who are as impoverished as most of the Pine Ridge Indians, 
the opportunity of obtaining an immediate income is very influential in their 
decision about how to make a living. Widespread experience in wage work began 
with farm labor in the twenties, was increased by relief work in the thirties, and 



is now continuing in war and farm work at highly increased wage rates. The 
present employment is reinforcing the conviction that wage work is a highly 
satisfactory way of earning a livelihood. 

One of the chief problems that have arisen over the development of the cattle 
economy is the attitude which the second generation in particular holds toward 
the. land. In spite of the fact that land "was hot regarded as private property in 
the pre-reservation era, it has become property of intrinsic value to modern 
Dakota since the sale and rental of allotments began. The income from leasing 
or selling allotments gave them a new value in the eyes of the Indians. Here was 
a means of obtaining cash without effort. However, the real worth of the land 
was not realized: the desire to commute it to cash was uppermost. When the 
landless began to discover that they had no way of raising more money or any 
means of growing food, the value of their land struck home. Those who retained 
their knd for rental also became aware of its value as other sources of revenue 
failed or disappeared. 

Land is not conceived of as a source of food-orjncome but as potential cash; the 
real value of the land to the Indian lies in its possible sale. This was demonstrated 
after the recent sale of allotments in the bombing area, when the cash became 
available at the Agency. The government made it mandatory that those who had 
sold their lands establish a budget for investment in new land in order that they 
might improve their earning capacity on the reservation. But all of them de- 
manded cash, and not 10 per cent of the Indians wanted to invest money in new 
land. Most of the people therefore requested livestock and equipment in the hope 
that they could turn these into cash at a later date. One Indian with a record of 
good management voiced the prevailing attitude when he said he wanted cash 
some to give his wife, some to buy things for his children, some for clothes, and 
the rest for travel and a little good time. Here again is the old premium on dis- 
posing of wealth. Behind this also lies the belief that land held in trust is some- 
thing really belonging outright to the Indian to do with as he pleases. This same 
Indian, who would spend all his money from land sales, also proposed to ask the 
government for a loan to rehabilitate himself on rented land. Such apparent im- 
practicality stems from attitudes derived from past experiences and the wardship 

It must be remembered that the able-bodied men who can become the stockmen 
of the reservation today have had little experience in managing cattle and buying 
and selling on the market. Twenty or thirty years ago they were only boys whose 
fathers ran the cattle herds. They gained some experience with cattle in working 
with their fathers, but when they were old enough to take over the full operations, 


the cattle were gone. There is, then, for many of the men the problem of entering 
a business in which they are very inadequately trained. 

Lack of confidence in the ability of other Indians deters many from leasing 
land to them or co-operating in group economic ventures. In every community 
there are some Indians who have been in the cattle business for several years and 
prefer to continue on an independent basis. Some of these are the sons of white 
men who trained them to keep away from other Indians and work individually 
like the white farmer. Others have been established on an independent basis by 
government assistance under programs which attempted to help the able-bodied 
and willing families in the community. These Indian farmers are frequently 
uninterested in pooling their land in a co-operative range and joining a cattle 
association of inexperienced men who are just commencing business. 

Conflict has developed between individualistic and competitive ranching and 
the co-operative associations which the government is now promoting. Co-opera- 
tive operations appeal strongly to the full-blood people. The Dakota man was 
individualistic only in making his tools and weapons and in the choice of time 
and nature of his daily work in support of his family. Most of his hunting, his 
warfare, his travel, and his camp were organized in co-operation with others. To 
act together and share together were highly important values. These are still 
important values which many of the people express in modern economic enter- 

The individualism and competition of the white man have, however, been 
learned, and they hav~ffiade inroads into the attitudes of many Indians, espe- 
cially mixed-bloods. Those who are unwilling to co-operate in co-operative enter- 
prises or wish ttTwithdraw from them often impair the efficiency of these enter- 
prises by withholding necessary lands and creating jealousies and bad feeling 
because of their adherence to non-Indian traits. 

The conflict between the developing individualism of the white man and the 
co-operation and sharing of -the Indian also crops up in the difference in attitudes 
toward the accumulation or sharing of wealth. The second generation, especially 
the mixed-blood members, have diverged greatly from the Indian customs sur- 
rounding generosity. 

The Indian who amasses a large herd of cattle, builds a good home, and re- 
ceives an income of a thousand dollars or more but does not distribute his wealth 
on ceremonial occasions, such as a wedding or funeral in his family, becomes 
the subject of severe criticism and ostracism by his relatives and friends. This is 
just what happened to many mixed-bloods who followed the white pattern of 
accumulating property and thus lost favor and status with the majority of the 
people in their communities. 
Pressure to abandon the practice of the give-away has had some effect, and the 


recent poverty of the people has diminished the amounts given. The result of 
these influences was observed at a recent ceremony. A widow gave stacks of hay 
to her husband's relatives and said privately that she would give away all her 
household furnishings. Her stepfather advised her that this would be foolish, for 
she would need them later. The next day the widow gave away great lengths of 
calico purchased at the store but kept her house intact. This was not entirely out- 
side former Sioux practice, when the husband's relatives would request a woman 
to keep some things for herself, 5 but such encouragement from her own relatives 
was formerly looked upon as selfish. Now, reinforced by Indian Service and 
white opinion, the Indians are becoming more cautious in the giving-away of 

The give-away as one expression of the Sioux ideal of generosity and strong 
social cohesion is not such a detrimental factor today as its less formal aspect, the 
custom of hospitality. To receive and feed all visitors, especially relatives, is still 
an obligation. It is this custom which undermines economic development of in- 
dividual families and keeps them poor. When there were greater food resources 
to be obtained by the skill of the hunter and everyone was close to the same 
level of wealth, hospitality did not tax the individual family too heavily. In- 
dividuals who remained too long to continue to receive hospitality at the home of a 
well-to-do family usually repaid their obligations by assisting the family. 

This is not now the case. Relatives come for a meal, or for a few days while the 
food resources last, and then/aepart. If a man is a farmer with a good garden or 
his wife has a large store o^canned vegetables and there is a steer in the pasture 
which might be butchered, relatives will come often and stay long. This cannot 
be a two-way affair, as in /he past, for only the few are comparatively well off and 
the majority are impoverished. Moreover, a good farmer cannot leave his cattle 
and crops to travel about obtaining reciprocity for his previous generosity. Thus 
hospitality has become a burden to the few and a strong deterrent to accumulating 
material wealth. / 

The conflict oFthe old hospitality with modern economic machinery is also 
shown in the situation, so unfair according to white standards, in which idle 
young people vifeit over long periods of time with their grandparents who are on 
old age assistance rolls. The young people expect to be supported indefinitely on 
meager assistance checks without reciprocating, as they would have been obligated 
to do in the old society. 

The man with a regular salary today becomes a target for his poorer and ne'er- 
do-well relatives. "He has enough. Why should he not feed us? He is my rela- 
tive," is the prevailing attitude. In the rural communities regularly employed 
men are few, usually employees of the trader or of the government school and 
farm station. They live in the community center where people are constantly 


coming for provisions and mail. What could be more natural than for relatives 
to stop by for dinner or supper or both? In one community, the practice drove the 
school bus-drivers to petition that they be transferred elsewhere and that no local 
men be employed, in order that they might not be impoverished by their relatives. 

The rarity of the man or woman with a regular cash income in the rural areas 
makes his position almost untenable. Thus the wage-worker solves his problem 
by going to work at the Agency, where nearly all the men are wage-workers, or 
by leaving the reservation altogether. This possibility of moving helps to make 
wage work more popular than farming in one's own neighborhood. 

The attitude toward money, moreover, makes the position of the wage-worker 
socially more conrfortaHe't&aSlthat of a farmer who is doing fairly well. In 
Indian terms, money is not strictly property and the attitudes toward property do 
not fully apply to it. Hence it is not subject to complete requisition in the form of 
hospitality. To be sure, an individual will ask for a small loan or gift of money; 
but, although he may encourage it, he will not expect another to spend all his 
money on him or give it away ceremonially. Only when money is transposed into 
food or objects which can be eaten or received as gifts does it become property 
Tyhich its owner is expected to share. Therefore the wage-worker is in a safer 
position than the prosperous farmer. The wage-worker may hide his money and 
appear poor, or leave it in the hands of the government, whence it is thought to 
be difficult to draw out. Better than this is the possibility of spending the money 
quickly on himself. Saving exposes one to visits from poor relatives and is against 
good Sioux behavior. Spending therefore is approved, and if a man spends money 
on a car, a radio, good meals for his family in a restaurant, and expensive Stetson 
hats, cowboy boots, and silk shawls, he has behaved in an approved manner and 
avoided much possible criticism. Nevertheless, the owner of personal luxuries is 
still subject to the expectation of gifts and loans. 


It is obvious from the conflicting attitudes just described that the Pine Ridge 
people are under the influence of two cultures but are not living completely in 
either. The existence of conflicting standards of behavior makes it inevitable that 
,alffi6st any action of the individual is out of line with the standards of some 
members of his community. Normally a society attempts to bring conformity to 
its standards by the imposition of sanctions against the nonconforrner. The 
Dakota, in seeking to impose the sanctions of the old society upon nonconformity 
to approved ways, have often intensified, rather than reduced, the deviation. The 
imposing of sanctions has also failed because the Dakota do not have the right 
to impose some of the old controls and have lost to the government the imposition 
of others. 


As noted in chapter iv, the Dakota had a law-enforcing agency in the afycita, 
or camp police, whose authority was absolute. Early travelers among the Sioux 
have noted the whippings inflicted on the unruly. Murderers might be clubbed 
or shot on the spot. The family of the wronged person might also seek vengeance 
on the offender or a member of his family. 

The most potent forms of social control, however, were criticism, ridicule, and 
ostracism. Public ceremonies in which men claimed war honors or women were 
honored for their virtue included the right to ridicule false claimants. Childhood 
training implanted a fear of shame which made criticism and ridicule very 
potent deterrents to any deviations from the accepted code. 

Both the physical punishment by the a^icita and the control by ridicule in cere- 
mony have gone with the old encampments, but criticism, ridicule, and ostracism 
are still important methods of keeping the individual in line. People gossip about 
the nonconformer, sing satirical songs about him at the Rabbit Dance, or ignore 
him in public. 

The story of the Indian who purchased a new wagon and, in the manner of 
white farmers, covered it with tarpaulin for protection from sun and wind is a 
typical example of this type of control. This man left his carefully covered wagon 
beside his house in the center of the village. His neighbors on their way to and 
from the store called out, "Hi there, who do you think you are a wosicu [white 
man] covering up your wagon?" The jeering at white custom and the white 
man's sense of the value of property drove the proud owner to take off the tar- 
paulin at the end of three days and leave his wagon to dry and crack in the hot 

At present, such controls are used largely to enforce co-operation, the basis of 
Dakota interaction. The main area where attempts are made to enforce co- 
operation is in the use of property; conflicts in this area have already been de- 
scribed. The second area is co-operation in work and in family relations, both of 
which are changing rapidly. Controls are also exerted in the field of sex relations, 
but less frequently than in other areas because standards are more in conflict. 

The varying economic policies of the government have had the effect at one 
time of dispersing the old extended family groups and at another of bringing 
them together. Allotments broke up the old band camps and dispersed family 
homes over a much wider area. When families sold their allotments in the boom 
of the twenties, they were forced to move from their homes. The usual procedure 
was to settle with parents or other relatives who did not want to dispose of their 
land or who could not establish competency. The extended family groups were 
thus re-established as in the old tiyospoye camps. However, there was little work 
to be done, little opportunity for the men to work together as they had in man- 


aging their cattle herds, and few means of support. Many families left for the 
summer to work in the potato fields but returned in the winter to share and live 

With the development of C.C.C. work projects, the younger families and un- 
married men went to live in the work camps and to move with them as projects 
were undertaken in different parts of the reservation. Since then many of these 
families have left the reservation to live near the war-industry centers. 6 

This dispersion of families over and outside the reservation has weakened the 
co-operation of the extended family and community groups. Frequently the 
stay-at-homes, the older people and women and children, have been asked to look 
after the horses or a few cattle of the absentees. Such co-operation is willingly 
given, but very often there is no return of assistance by the people who have gone 
away. This is due to changing attitudes. Those who have gone away expect those 
at home to co-operate by caring for property left behind, according to Indian 
custom; but, like white men, they have come to regard money earned on the job 
as belonging exclusively to themselves and their immediate families. Those left 
behind are at a disadvantage under both customs. 

The older generation, trained more intensely in the Dakota tradition of co- 
operation, feel the desire to give and receive it more than do the younger people. 
When young people who have left home return, frequently without money, they 
become subject to the criticism of relatives and neighbors. 

The younger people often feel resentful and sometimes confused. Frequently 
they are trying to live by two social codes: one which seems to be keeping them 
poor and another which is allowing them to gratify many of their personal desires. 
Because they are not linked with relatives and responsibilities when they live 
away from the reservation, they have much freedom. This lack of immediate 
responsibility creates attitudes that would bring difficulties even in white so- 
ciety, were these individuals to remain there permanently. 

This situation is by no means universal on Pine Ridge, but it is frequent 
enough to cause much family disorganization. The breakdown of the family 
results in serious difficulties for the individual and particularly for children. 

Another realm of social control closely related to family co-operation and or- 
ganization is sex behavior and the attitudes between men and women. Like 
family relations, sex relations and attitudes are changing, and social dislocation is 
produced by partial adherence to Dakota customs. 

In the former society unmarried men were placed under little control in their 
advances toward women and given no punishment if they succeeded in having 
sex relations. The controls were placed rather upon the women, through strict 
chaperonage of all unmarried girls and young women. There can be no doubt 


that this involved a concept of wrongdoing in extramarital sex relations, but im- 
morality and evil were not emphasized as in white society. Premarital sex rela- 
tions did occur; but, i known by others, they were forgotten as soon as the girl 
was married. 

With the isolation of homes on the reservation and the increasing amount of 
travel alone by young people, girls can no longer be under the constant chap- 
eronage of older female relatives. When the girls go away to school, they learn the 
white standards of freer association with boys. The acceptance outside the school 
of white standards of free association has made the complete protection and con- 
trol of girls and women impossible. Furthermore, the sex standards of the whites 
with whom most Indians associate easily outside the school are not those taught 
by the school and the missionaries. It is not surprising, therefore, that control of 
extramarital sex relations has broken down and that the attitudes toward them 
are much freer than those sanctioned either by the former Dakota society or by 
the middle class in white society. 

Parents try to use the old control of criticism, since chaperonage has become 
impossible, but criticism seems to have lost its former weight with the young 
people. Parents therefore frequently turn to white controls and ask school prin- 
cipals or police to bring back runaway daughters or to punish young men who 
have seduced them. 

The breakdown in family control and the failure of the child-training system 
are not the only causes for increasing sexual delinquency. From time immemorial 
this has been a symptom of and sequel to general social disorganization. On the 
reservation the sex delinquency is to be found among the most disorganized gen- 
eration the parents as often as among the young people. Hence it is probable 
that the illicit sexual behavior of parents and the amount of gossip about it in the 
community cause as much delinquency among the younger people as lack of 
social control. 

The general attitude of Dakota men toward women also calls for comment. 
Dakota culture was definitely oriented toward the life and pursuits of the men, 
and the women's life was almost completely supplementary _tQ. .the men's activi- 
ties. The position to which most of the men have now been reduced by economic 
and political changes has not given them prestige by which they can maintain 
their, pre-eminent role. The men have felt, therefore, some resentment, some 
guilt, and much dissatisfaction, and they often become critical of and antagonistic 
toward women. On the other hand, the position of women in the family and in 
the community has risen, and their function in the family is often more impor- 
tant today than that of the men. They have become critical of men's behavior and 
have held it up to ridicule. These changes in roles and status have led to hostile 


attitudes and relationships on the part of both men and women, and even to the 
breakup of many families. Women have left their husbands for men who can 
give them better homes with more to eat. Resentful husbands have left home to 
live with more congenial women or to work and keep their earnings to them- 

In the old days a runaway wife's nose was cut off. If a husband deserted his 
family, he was subject to severe criticism and the pressures of both his and his 
wife's families to return. At present little heed is paid to family criticism. Many 
wives dislike to ask the Tribal Court or the Agency social worker to enforce 
support or mete out punishment, and so social disintegration goes unchecked. 
The primary cause appears to lie in the economic conditions, but increased in- 
comes alone will not remedy the situation. It seems unlikely that social disorgani- 
zation can be overcome unless its effects upon families, especially the children, 
are fully realized by the people and until the communities can take greater 
responsibility for imposing controls upon their own members. 

The right of appointed police to impose physical punishment or of families 
to exact justice independently of the general society passed with the nomadic 
life. But the substitutes the powers of the Agency police and punishment by 
fines and imprisonment have not accomplished the same control. The people 
still fear the police, by tradition or through the experience of being taken to 
school, but the chief reaction to the penalties imposed by the Tribal Court has 
been annoyance at inconvenience. Going to jail now causes less embarrassment 
than resentment. Indians resent this type of punishment because, even though 
the judges are Indians, the court is regarded as an institution imposed by whites. 
Arrest and punishment, therefore, bring little sense of shame. Friends and rela- 
tives will help an offender to avoid arrest and commonly will not act as witnesses 
or tell the full facts of the case. Family co-operation and loyalty are strong in 
these situations, relatives being both unwilling to betray and afraid to expose 
themselves to criticism and retaliation. Such refusal to testify has often been 
. the case even when relatives are the injured parties. 

On the other hand, people do resort to the Tribal Court and police where other 
means of control are ineffective. Frequently they ask police or court to make a 
man pay damages or support his children. Most people prefer, however, to arrive 
at an amicable settlement in these cases with the aid of a local government official. 

The Tribal Court and the adoption of a tribal law code have reduced some of 
the antagonism toward the white system of law and order, but new problems 
have also arisen. Indian judges and p6lice are subject to all the pressure of Indian 
society. Relatives expect them to side with family groups, and nonrelatives accuse 
them of prejudice and special favors. The personal lives of judges are well known, 
and any infringement of the moral code or the law in the past is brought up as a 


means of criticism. Jealousy and resentment are usually aroused when Indians 
are elevated above the social level of the group. It is to be remembered that 
formerly people attempted to pull down those who rose by unapproved means. 


Not only the attempts to impose law and order but many other relationships to 
the government have been unsettling to the Dakota. The Pine Ridge Indians 
have been dependents since 1868, when the primitive tribe needed to be fed and 
protected and guided in its adjustment to civilized society. The government by 
treaty gives each eighteen-year-old boy or girl farming equipment or household 
property. The Agency controls the leasing of individually alloted lands; it handles 
all inheritances; it controls and distributes at its discretion all moneys except 
wages that come from the government to the Indian; it advises the Indian in a 
paternalistic manner in many intimate details of his daily life. 7 There has re- 
sulted a parent-child, superior-inferior relationship between the government and 
the individual Indian that extends from the cradle to the grave. Even as late as 
1943, the Agency wished to maintain this relationship over many families who 
had proved their competency to manage their affairs by earning and repaying 
government loans of money and cattle. The responsibility of many of the Dakota 
and their ability to succeed in white life have long since been proved, but often 
they are still treated as more or less irresponsible children. There is no way in 
which the competent Indian can become a completely independent citizen on the 
reservation, subject only to the laws and regulations under which his white 
neighbor lives. The Indian does, in fact, receive some special privileges, but these 
are little compensation to his feeling of legal inequality and social inferiority. 

The fact that the Agency also is the source of food, work, schools, and hos- 
pitalsalmost every opportunity and service which white men usually earn or 
provide through taxing themselves is a source of frustration. One who must 
always receive and never return is put in a position of obligation that makes him 
feel overpowered. To people who were so meticulous as the Dakota about re- 
paying gifts, the position of ward is especially galling. This relationship to the 
government has gone on so long that the Indians now cling to it for security and 
yet resent it because it does not permit them to be fully responsible citizens. The 
government has thus become the victim of its own methods for "civilizing" the 
Indian; it is now responsible for wards who resent wardship, on the one hand, 
and yet, on the other, are not fully willing to assume greater responsibility for 
themselves. 8 

The relationship of Indians to the general society of whites both on the reserva- 
tion and in outside communities has been one of friction, hostility, and insecurity. 


It must be remembered that it was the policy of the government, until 1933, for 
the Indians to merge with the white population. Although forced assimilation is 
no longer the policy, the white man's educational system, family and social life, 
religion, and especially his economic system are held up to the Indian as the most 
desirable forms of living. The white man's type of life has been made the Indian's 
goal in the past, and toward this goal his society and culture have been moving. 
Thus when in individual contacts the Indian finds himself ostracized or ex- 
ploited by white men, he feels threatened and baffled. When he accepts the advice 
and encouragement of the white man, he often meets with rebuffs from other 
white men which show him that, as as Indian, he is considered either outside 
white society or else included only in its lowest stratum. He therefore sees him- 
self as permanently inferior and marginal to the society which exhorts him and 
often forces him to emulate its ways. 


The modern social structure, with its poverty, lack of adequate roles and cul- 
tural objectives, and social conflicts arising out of lost controls and changing 
attitudes, is strongly conducive to insecurity for the group and for the individual. 
As each Dakota man or woman now looks back to the past either from experience 
or through the stories which have been told him, he senses the self-assurance and 
the ability of his ancestors to cope with life. They were united and secure in the 
life they followed, and their institutions gave good reinforcement within the 
group. By comparison, the modern Indian way of life is one of emptiness, one in 
which family and community are losing their integration. The contemporary 
life, as compared with the culture that was functioning in the middle nineteenth 
century, is only a shadow. Attitudes and values of that culture still strongly affect 
the behavior patterns of the people, but some of its social institutions are gone or 
are only vestigial. The realization of cultural loss and being neither Indian nor 
white in any cultural sense adds to the Indian's insecurity and isolation -in the 
modern world. 

This insecurity of the adults, which is now so apparent from the material point 
of view in their meager incomes and from the psychological point of view in their 
inconsistent behavior and conflicting attitudes, creates an atmosphere which can- 
not help having repercussions upon the children as they grow up. The young 
children can only sense the confusion and the uncertainty of their parents with- 
out understanding the causes, and so they themselves feel insecure. This inse- 
curity in the environment is one of the most significant aspects to keep in mind 
as we turn now to the children's training and social adjustments. 



1. Scudder Mekeel, The Economy of a Modern Teton Dakota Community (New Haven, Conn.: 
Yale University Press, 1936), p. 5, 

2. My People ike Sioux (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1928), p. 124. 

3. Sioux informants are not in agreement concerning the four chief virtues. J. R. Walker (The Sun 
Dance and Other Ceremonies of the Oglala Division of the Teton Dakota [New York: American 
Museum of Natural History, 1917], p. 79) reports them as bravery, fortitude, generosity, and fidelity. 
However, in his translation of a text by an Indian named Tyon, they are listed as bravery, generosity, 
truthfulness, and begetting children (p. 60). 

4. Frances Densrnore, Teton Sioux Music (U.S. Bureau of American Ethnology Bull. 61 [Wash- 
ington, 191 8]), p. 65. 

5. See Jeannette Mirsky, "The Dakota," in Co-operation and Competition among Primitive Peoples, 
ed. Margaret Mead (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1937), p. 388. 

6. This trend is some\vhat offset by the fact that many war workers and soldiers have left their 
families on the reservation with the grandparents or other relatives. 

7. One modern translation of the Sioux term for the white man is indeed revealing tvasicu, "he 
who commands." 

8. See Erik Homburger Erikson, "Observations on Sioux Education," Jottrnal of Psychology, VII 
(1939), 101-56. 




ASTOTED in chapter iv, Dakota concepts of training the child were, and 
are, in many ways different from those of white society. While many of 
the objectives of the two systems are similar, the method and timing of 
training for these objectives differ. Traditionally, the Dakota infant's training 
in cleanliness, careful handling of possessions, and other forms of behavior 
that a child has to learn begins later than in white society, and it is not enforced 
by the strong controls, such as spanking, so common in white child-training. 
Nor is the Dakota child fed, bathed, and put to sleep by the clock. Today white 
methods are used increasingly by the more assimilated Indian families, but the 
stronger discipline characteristic of the training of white children comes chiefly 
from the schools on the reservation. 

The health of the Dakota baby on the reservation today reflects clearly the 
teaching of Indian Service doctors and nurses, and delivery in the hospital has 
greatly lowered mortality in childbirth. White concepts of infant care are also 
followed by some Dakota mothers, and it is indisputable that modern pediatric 
practices have saved the lives of many infants. Yet, combined with the care of 
the baby's health learned from white doctors and nurses are training methods 
based on Dakota concepts. 

White ways of child care affect the Dakota child today even before birth. The 
prenatal clinics, the visits of field nurses to the homes before the birth, and 
hospital delivery provide the child a better start in life than was likely for the 
child born in the Indian home before such services were available. Most mothers 
are now going to the hospital to receive adequate attention and avoid the un- 
sanitary conditions at home. 

Some women, however, prefer to have their children in the home because 
they are afraid of the white man's medicine. Having a child inside the house is 
in itself a change from the former, and probably more sanitary, practice of being 
delivered in a clean sand pit outside the tepee, where there was no contact with 



an unclean bed and the afterbirth was buried. There appears to be little prepara- 
tion today for many of the births that occur in the homes. Assistance to the 
mother varies. Women told interviewers in this study that they had their 
children unattended or, if they had difficulty, called their husbands to assist 
them. It is the usual practice, however, to have the mother or the mother's sister 
attend; contrary to the former custom, mothers-in-law also assist. Mid wives and 
medicine men are occasionally called in, but they are becoming afraid to prac- 
tice as openly as in the old days. If there are accidents, women are quick to con- 
demn the midwife and blame the mother for not securing the services of a 
modern physician. The only old practices and beliefs connected with births 
reported in our field study were the occasional burning of the afterbirth and the 
belief by some mothers that bleeding of the umbilical cord causes the child to 
be weak. 


Babies are now put in diapers and dresses. When the baby is laid to sleep or 
carried out of the house, it is wrapped in a square baby blanket, pinned into a 
tight bundle like the old skin cradle. Erikson comments on the possible frustra- 
tions imposed on the child by both the old tight wrapping with its stiff but 
boardless back and the present tightly pinned blanket/ but there is some ques- 
tion as to whether the baby is actually frustrated by such confinement. For the 
newborn child, the warm wrapping is perhaps comfortable and satisfying. 
Modern babies are quite frequently unwrapped, often left to play on the bed, 
or laid in a hammock made of a blanket pinned through two loops of rope hung 
from the ceiling of the room. Two mothers stated to interviewers in this study 
that their children did not like being wrapped when carried; hence they always 
left the arms free. It was noticed that mothers holding their wrapped babies 
almost constantly rocked them lightly on their knee or passed the child to an- 
other woman or girl who rocked the child as long as she kept it. 

Most mothers on the reservation today nurse their babies. Where the mother's 
milk is insufficient or unsuitable for the Baby, Indian Service nurses and doctors 
advise the substitution of canned milk. The scheduled feeding practiced by 
white mothers is advocated by reservation nurses and doctors, but this advice is 
infrequently followed, so strong is the Dakota belief that a child should be fed 
whenever he frets. Resistance to scheduled feeding is also due to the fact that 
Indian families do not regulate their daily life by the clock. 

Reservation doctors and nurses recommend weaning between the ninth and 
twelfth months, and some women now abruptly wean their babies at this time. 
But most mothers extend the weaning process over a period of many months, 
gradually introducing solid foods. The time of weaning reported to interviewers 
in this study ranged from nine to thirty-six months, with the majority falling in 


the period of eleven to eighteen months. In the cases of prolonged nursing, as 
Erikson puts it, the child weans the mother. 2 

Early weaning is probably not so satisfactory as the doctors and nurses an- 
ticipate, for the weaned baby is usually given much of the meat and starchy 
foods served to the rest of the family. Milk is not always available. Furthermore, 
the special foods given to white babies after weaning (even orange juice) are 
hard to obtain in the rural communities and may be beyond the means of the 
poorer families when they are available. One nurse, after three years of clinic 
work, questions the value of the white feeding and weaning practices on the 
reservation because many children weaned early are completely deprived of 
milk, and essential elements provided by the former native foods are no longer 

Our observations indicate little attempt by Sioux babies to get oral gratifica- 
tion by sucking their fingers. This may be due to the prolonged nursing, granted 
at every request, and the gradual weaning still in practice. Only one child, aged 
four, was observed with a rubber pacifier, and only two were reported as being 
given objects to suck on one a piece of pork and the other a wiener! Erikson 
believes that the common Dakota habit of snapping the thumbnail against the 
front teeth is connected with the nursing practices. 3 Both children and adults 
also constantly pick their teeth with sticks and put all the fingers into the mouth. 
Frequent playing with the lips is definitely absent. Erikson suggests that these 
habits are derived from frustrations and discipline that occur when the child 
bites while nursing at the mother's~breast. On the other hand, it seems only 
logical to assume that many children might learn to suppress the biting of the 
breast if deprived of food and teethe on a toy or some other object with full 
satisfaction. From our observations (and also those of Erikson), the teeth-clicking 
habit occurs predominantly among women and girls. If both boys and girls are 
subject to the same frustration, the boys appear to find some other release. It is 
suggested that this is found in the greater aggressive behavior permitted the t 
boys. The possibility that this habit is a form of eroticism has also been ad- 
vanced. 4 m 

Full-blood parents place no great importance on the time when a child learns 
to walk or to talk. In the interviews the mother could usually recall the approxi- 
mate month in which talking and walking occurred, but she never indicated 
that she had felt anxiety that a child did not learn soon enough or any special 
pride that the child showed precocity. The parents assume that children will 
learn to walk at some time between the ninth and fifteenth month, and they 
patiently wait for the time with little use of persuasion. 

The time of learning to talk also varies greatly; usually talking is begun three 
, to four months after learning .to walk. Parents exert no pressure to hasten the 


child's performance at an early age or to change those who are temporarily 
satisfied with one word for all objects. The development of the child is watched 
with amusement and patience. None of the full-blood parents or adults use baby 
talk, and they usually teach their children Siouan. Many of these children do not 
speak English readily when they enter school, although they may have a small 
English vocabulary picked up from older brothers and sisters. 


About the time when the child can understand and communicate with his 
mother, toilet training commences. Formerly training consisted mainly of 
putting the little child outside the tepee, but now parents have greater concern 
about this side of the child's discipline. A few parents continue to put the child 
outside the door or hold him over a piece of paper on the floor. The majority use 
an old syrup can, or, if they can afford it, a baby's chamber pot purchased at the 
trader's. When the children can walk, mothers leave their diapers or underpants 
off, so that the child can go to the toilet as he pleases. The prevalence of this 
custom is difficult to estimate because underpants are usually slipped on when 
visitors, especially whites, are seen approaching the house. 

Very few mothers recounted any difficulty in training their children in adequate 
toilet behavior. They placed the child on the pot after each meal and in a few days 
the child learned to warn his mother. Much of this training is aided by the ex- 
ample of older brother and sisters who are also using the pot. If there is any 
great significance in the modern Dakota toilet training, it is that a change has 
been made from the former mild and gradual methods to pressures hastening 
sphincter control and excretion in special places. This training, however, is usually 
neither so intensive nor associated with such strong punishments as is the training 
usually imposed on white children. Dakota methods are also without the over- 
emphasized concepts of filth concerning bodily functions and the taboos asso- 
ciated with a private place and locked doors. The possible significance of the 
children's drawings of the outhouse may be questioned. However, in many of 
these drawings outhouse doers are shown open. This is an observation of a 
characteristic situation, and it may reflect the children's lack of feeling that such 
a place should be closed and the interior hidden from view. Another note of un- 
concern about toilet facilities was observed in households where the children 
used the toilet chair as an ordinary seat in the house. 

As noted in chapter viii, one of the cardinal virtues of the old Dakota society, 
which is still strong today, was generosity. Gifts of property were made to honor 
the recipient and the giver alike. 

Modern Dakota children are carefully trained in this tradition. Many children 


are given farm animals when they are only two or three years old, and giving a 
horse to a child is the traditional way for an uncle or older brother to honor him. 
Quite aside from the pleasure which any gift brings a young child, receiving an 
animal has distinct training values on the reservation in developing the interest 
of the child in rural life. Little boys soon learn to recognize their own animals 
and are anxious to ride or care for them as soon as possible. Girls' animals are 
cared for by their older brothers or fathers; even so, the personal interest in 
watching a pony grow and in learning to ride him have distinct training values. 
These gifts also have an economic value, for any issue from them is scrupulously 
regarded as the child's own and is taken over by him as he grows up. If it is sold, 
the money is used to buy something the child wants or is kept for him. This is 
the ideal and indeed the common practice, but under the pressure of poverty 
and with the changing attitudes toward property, many exceptions may be noted. 
Parents are known to have slaughtered or sold the children's animals. 

The gifts to children serve to inculcate in them a reciprocal generosity as a 
means of gaining approval. Children of five, six, and seven give freely and pleas- 
antly to their younger brothers and sisters. Small children learn the more formal 
type of giving by observing their elders. At one funeral where there was much 
giving, a small boy of the bereaved family spent his only dime to buy artificial 
orange powder in order to give a bucket of orangeade ceremonially to the visiting 

Among the Sioux property does not have the high value associated with it in 
white society. This carries over into Dakota child-training in ways that are as- 
tonishing to white observers. Parents usually put valuable or breakable articles 
which they wish to preserve out of reach of the young child, and he therefore 
picks up and handles anything he wishes. However, when valuables are large or 
not so easily safeguarded, the attitude of indulgence persists. White people will 
sit outside an Indian home in bewilderment and utter frustration watching 
children tear a headlight off a car or drag good harness over the ground in play, 
while the parents sit by undisturbed. To the whites it seems preposterous that 
people who are so poor should allow children to damage useful objects that have 
been earned with great difficulty. This is a part of the lack of concern over prop- 
erty that underlies the Dakota virtue of generosity; it is also a way of teaching 
children not to set a high value on property. 

The methods of teaching small children proper behavior are based on encour- 
aging the child to de wrxat is desired by kindness and patience and by example 
rather thanjiy.,ajpng. series of "don'ts." To white people Indian child-training 
appears to consist more of "spoiling" than disciplining, but Indian parents have 
several means of controlling their children. Warnings and shamingjthe child are 
started early by criticizing him for not doing what is proper and approved. 


Parents also attempt to divert, rather than prohibit, children from doing un- 
desirable things. Sometimes misbehavior is simply ignored; little children are 
allowed to scream in rage, which, according to old belief, will make them strong. 
Spanking is rare, although it seems to be becoming more frequent among mixed- 
blood families. Full-bloods say that spanking will make a child crazy and are 
contemptuous of parents who slap or whip. 

The punitive controls are the child frighteners, such as the mythical Tchitchi 
man, Sioko, a crazy man, and a witch who appears as a thistle. These figures are 
used to keep the child from wandering away from home. Wiwili, a mysterious 
spirit who frightens or catches children who go near the creeks, is used to keep 
the children away from the water. Significantly, all threatening or frightening is 
done through invoking these supernatural figures or humans who are outside 
the family group. Even more significant is the fact that the human figure used as 
a child frightener is usually a white man. It can readily be seen that, unless there 
is some friendly white person in the child's early life, fear may be built up which 
will condition a child against whites for years, if not for life. 


Play was a way of learning as well as recreation for the child in the old Dakota 
society and is so regarded today. Small boys were formerly given little bows and 
arrows with which to imitate hunters and warriors in their play. They were also 
given the foot bones of a buffalo, which they used as toy horses and buffalo. Little 
boys today are encouraged to play with a rope and slingshot and to chase the 
rooster and smaller animals in the yard, in order to develop aggressiveness. The 
foot bones, now those of a horse or cow, are called "horses" and "cattle," each 
being designated by its general form or some facet of the bone as a stallion, mare, 
mule, bull, cow } or steer. This kind of play intensifies and gives expression to the 
boy's first interest in animals and the career of a cowboy. 

From the time they can walk, little girls have dolls with which they play in 
imaginary episodes of the activities of older girls and women. This play is fre- 
quently centered around dressing and undressing dolls, wrapping them in blan- 
kets, and putting them into toy wagons made of boxes. Little girls also have many 
paper dolls made by cutting pictures out of magazines. These pictures of white 
people in white clothes have no little significance in determining later standards 
of feminine dress and appearance. The little girls also play at cooking, washing 
clothes, and keeping house. It is not long before they are given little chores as 
part of their play to teach them the household duties of the women. 


Pine Ridge children dress much likethe white children in any midwestern rural 
community. The only Indian elements in the everyday appearance are the long 





braids worn by some small full-blood boys, but these are invariably cut by the 
time the child is ready for school. Doting grandmothers may make a beaded 
buckskin suit, but it is always thought of as a costume and is worn only at fairs 
and Indian dances where the child participates beside his costumed elders. Some 
parents buy wide-brimmed hats and high-heeled boots which enhance little boys' 
favorite imaginary role of cowboy. Otherwise children in their homes and at 
school look much like any group of white American boys and girls. 

As soon as infant clothing is outgrown, little girls are put into short cotton 
dresses. As they grow older, they wear the cotton or wool dresses, the sweaters 
and skirts, and the socks worn by all American schoolgirls. No Pine Ridge girl 
today wears the ankle-length dress, cloth leggings, and moccasins occasionally 
seen on the old grandmothers. The shawl, which is still worn by most older 
women, is not used by the schoolgirl, although she may wear it in her home or at 
an Indian dance and may adopt it for general wear after she has left school. The 
schoolgirl's usual outdoor garment is a heavy sweater or cloth coat and the scarf 
worn over the head by many white girls. It is very rare for an Indian girl or 
woman to wear a hat. The long pigtails worn by the little girls look much like 
those in our society. Older girls cut their hair and most of them, like their white 
counterparts, make some attempt to cultivate a "wave." 

Little boys are dressed much like their fathers from the time they discard their 
baby clothes. Every boy beyond the toddling stage wears the same kind of clothes 
he will wear all his life long trousers or dungarees, a shirt, and a felt hat or 
hunting cap. He may have a suit for dress affairs, as his father has a suit for wear 
at church or on long trips off the reservation. At school he may wear a sweater. 
But, by and large, he wears the same costume most of his life. 

This habit of dressing children much like adults, without the rompers, the 
jerseys, and the other articles worn by the young white child, is not without sig- 
nificance. It epitomizes the Dakota philosophy of training, after the early years; 
the child is hurried toward adulthood. 


1. Erik Hamburger Erikson, "Observations on Sioux Education," Journal of Psychology, VII 
(1939), 138. 

2. Ibid. 

3. lbid n p. 139. . 

4. Dorothea Leighton, MJX, U.S.I.S,, personal communication. 


f ^HE years between five and ten are a period of great changes in the behavior 

I of any child, white or Indian. White children show~a marked expansiveness 
JL and spontaneity in their personalities and a desire to move into social circles 
outside their families. At about five they are sent to school, to begin their educa- 
tion and to associate with children of their age in the community. By the time 
they are ready for school, they have been generally trained in the proper relation- 
ships to observe toward other people and much of the behavior that they will be 
expected to exhibit at school. 

Dakota children of five or six have also been trained in the proper behavior to 
observe in their society; but the relationship to adults is less one of obedience to 
authority, and discipline has been much moreTn'fKe form of guidance and en- 
couragement to do the right thing than punishment for misbehavior. Hence, by 
the time he is five or six, the Dakota child has acquired a feeling of security and 
affection in the family. His training has been far less intensive than the white 
child's, for it is at about this age that his serious training really begins. 

The training for the home duties of men and women, which began in play 
when the child was younger, is continued now by asking the child to perform 
many chores. The boys begin to chop wood, carry water, and ride horses to look 
after the livestock, and the girls wash dishes, clean the house, and take care of 
smaller children. Horses are substituted for bone toys and real babies for dolls. 
This work at home increases until, by the time the children are ten, eleven, or 
twelve, they can do much of the work of fathers and mothers. 

Although the avoidance observed between brothers and sisters in the old so- 
ciety has been abandoned, children of five or six begin to imitate the general 
separation of the sexes hi public. Fathers may take young sons into the men's part 
of the circle at a public feast or into the men's side of the church. The boys also 
begin to play separately from the girls. The girls feel a greater pressure to avoid 
boys. They see their mothers and older sisters keep to themselves an,d show fear 
of men. The little girls are also taught to be modest and are criticized for striking 
back at aggressive brothers or other boys. 



Control over misbehavior is exercised by shaming, which becomes more 
intense when the child continues to do wrong after he has learned the proper 
mode of conduct. Shaming is applied not only to misbehaving youngsters but 
also to the selfish and competitive child, who seeks to gain to the disadvantage 
of others, an act which brings strong criticism from both parents and other 
children. It is by this means that children are taught not to disrupt the co-opera- 
tive aspects of Dakota life. 

Observers visiting the Pine Ridge communities in the course of this study fre- 
quently noticed older children of the five- to ten-year-old group playing or 
visiting homes at some distance from their own. This was particularly true of the 
older boys, who are good riders by this age and can travel into other communities 
on their horses. Children of eight to ten are taken more frequently on trips to 
off-reservation towns or to the harvest camps than when they were younger. Both 
their world of acquaintances and their knowledge of the outside world become 
broadened. But the most important medium for making new acquaintances is 
the school, which now becomes the great center of interest in their lives. 

Most Dakota children like going to school. They find the school activities of 
great interest and much more absorbing than the rather monotonous life at home. 
During summer vacation, many children asked the interviewers when school 
would begin again. Yet, in spite of their eagerness to attend, problems do arise, 
particularly over the differences between Indian and white systems of training 
and the adjustment of the child on entering school. Some of the children faced 
with new problems of response or adjustment behave in ways which are often 
baffling to their teachers. 


The objectives of the reservation schools are to stimulate habits and attitudes 
desirable for children in the particular circumstances of the Dakota and to build 
up a body of knowledge to carry on life on the reservation and with white society. 
The essential work of the day school is teaching the primary tool subjects 
reading, writing, arithmetic, arid, for many children, the English language and 
creating interests in the fundamental economic and social activities of the 

The educational method is based on class projects or activities which are cen- 
tered around the home, pet animals, and health. Garden projects create an early 
interest in farming and the production of food an interest still not highly de- 
veloped among the older Dakota. Pet animals are kept in the classroom or on the 
school farm in order that the children may learn affection and consideration for 
them. In spite of their great traditional interest in horses and dogs, the Sioux are 


not kind masters, and the children often treat animals cruelly at home. In addition 
to humanitarian considerations, different attitudes and treatment are necessary if 
the children are to gain much of their living by handling domestic animals. 

The project method is exceptionally well suited for educating the Dakota 
children because it follows their own method of learning by doing and following 
the example of others. By bringing the children to participate and to share in the 
work and the responsibility for completion of a project, this method also re- 
inforces the training for co-operative work already begun in the family. 

The project method has a special value for many reservation children who 
know little or no English when they enter school. Working with bilingual chil- 
dren who can translate for them and help them to build up English vocabularies 
is a great help to the shy Indian-speaking children. Projects are immensely 
successful in diverting the timid new child's attention from the strange school 
situation, which often terrifies him at first, and in getting him to enter into school 
life. By working or playing with others, he makes new friends and has a good 
time. Projects are also a basis by which the teacher can establish herself as a 
friendly and kindly person, interested in the child's welfare and happiness. 

The present curriculum at Pine Ridge has been functioning for about seven or 
eight years not long enough for an evaluation of its full effect upon children 
who have finished school. However, it is already evident in the schools that 
children have become increasingly interested in the rural-life programs and 
especially in the raising of livestock. 

Each day school provides the children with a noon meal, and a lunch is served 
to the younger students just before dismissal. The hot noon meals have been an 
important factor in building up the health of the majority of Pine Ridge children, 
who look upon the quantity and variety of the food as a luxury. 

The school program includes the moving pictures and dramatics usually found 
in white schools and special programs for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiv- 
ing, and Christmas. The school games for young children are all white games. 
The primary grades teach "Tag," "Drop the Handkerchief," "Farmer in the 
Dell," and other group games in which one child is "it." The majority of children 
playing unsupervised, however, choose group games of two sides. The boys play 
"Indian and Whiteman," known as "Indians and Cowboys," in which the prefer- 
ence is to be the cowboy on the pursuing and winning side. Another game, 
"Beaver," is played by two sides of both boys and girls, one running through the 
line of the other to reach a point of safety. The small children at the boarding 
school also make up play about things they see in the weekly school movies. Dur- 
ing the winter of 1943 the "game-of-the-week" was likely to be the re-enactment 
with hobby horses of the rides and fights of "cowboys" or the fights between 
"sailors" and "pirates" with homemade wooden swords. 


The most popular sports are Softball and basketball. As few children have 
either ball or baskets at home, the latter is played almost exclusively in the 
school gymnasiums. These games have been played for so long that they are now 
part of the school and community life and are not looked upon as having been 
learned from the white people. 


For the Dakota child of five or six, entering school is a radical change from 
the comparatively confined and simple life of his rural neighborhood. The many 
new children, the teacher, and the competition create strange and often fright- 
ening situations to which adjustments must be made. 

The child enters a class of many children whom he has never seen. In the 
larger schools at Kyle and Pine Ridge he may be in a classroom with thirty or 
forty other children and see a hundred or more older children on the playgound. 
It is difficult for youngsters to feel secure in these large groups, and many refuse 
to stay in school unless a parent or grandparent remains with them for several 
days. This is not different from the experience of white children, but Dakota 
children face many situations for the first time which can be more confusing or 
frightening. Until they go to school, most children except those living in Pine 
Ridge town are unaccustomed to travel by car or bus, to large rooms and build- 
ings, to lavatories and flush toilets, and to hallways filled with children. 

One of the most important adjustments, and for a short period one of the most 
difficult for the young child in his,newjchool situation, is with the teacher. The 
reader will recall that white people have been used as frighteners in many Dakota 
children's early training. To be placed suddenly under the authority of a white 
person and to have to depend on her for care can be a very disturbing and fright- 
ening experience. Until the teacher can establish herself as a friendly and helpful 
person, the child may remain highly alarmed. 

In some classes this conflict may be reduced if the teacher herself is an Indian. 
Yet the greater ease of adjustment to an Indian teacher miy be offset in part if 
she uses white school disciplinary methods. Again, the teacher may come from an 
Indian culture which trains children in a different way. Hence, although she may 
be sympathetic with her students because she also is an Indian, at the same 
time she may act in ways to which Dakota children are unaccustomed. 

From both the Indian and the white teacher the child must accept direction and 
authority which are imposed more sharply and severely than in the child's home. 
He must move with groups, march in line, accept instructions, and refrain from 
following his own fancy to the degree to which he has been accustomed. Another 
great difficulty for many children from non-English-speaking homes is inability 


to understand thej:eacher's simplest directions and, indeed, much o what is going 
on in the classroom. 

Observers in this study noted that in the early grades there were many systems 
for competition among the children and many ways of rewarding individual 
behavior. Little children were asked to perform before the class. Drawings were 
compared to select the best. The work of one individual was held up before the 
others as an outstanding example. Charts with the names of the class, showing 
individual records or gold stars for perfect work, were hung on the walls as de- 
vices to reward competitive effort and to stimulate those on the bottom to do 

It is only natural for a white teacher, or an Indian teacher who has been trained 
in the white school system, to introduce competitive activities into classwork, but 
the younger Dakota children find them difficult to understand. Some, it is true, 
particularly the mixed-bloods, accept competitive work readily, and others soon 
learn to compete; but many refuse to enter into competition, withdraw from 
activities, and sometimes become unwilling to make any response. 

Part of this behavior is due to the lack of preparation for competitive activity. 
The ideal of Dakota life in the old days was co-operation, and, although competi- 
tion was permitted adults in limited fields of activity, 1 it was not taught the 
young child. Such competition as existed was to maintain position and good 
performance relative or equal to others in the band. There were no "stars" and 
no laggards. Severe criticism was exerted on the child who sought to "shine" in 
unapproved ways or before he was old enough. The great sensitivity to shame, 
built up from his earliest years, also kept down any desire to excel to the disad- 
vantage of others. And so it is todays-competition is discouraged by sharp criti- 
cisnxand provoked embarrassment. To be asked to compete in class goes against 
the grain with the Dakota^child, and he criticizes the competitive ones among 
his fellows. 


It should be reiterated that most of the children enjoy school after the first dif- 
ficulties are overcome, but certain conflicts have been described above because 
they stem from fundamental differences between white and Indian cultures. 
Other typical behavior problems are embarrassment, refusal to participate or 
talk, and running away. The stimuli for this behavior are apparent in the school 
situation already discussed; i.e., fear of the teacher as a white person, inability to 
speak English, and the demand for individual performance and competition. 
The conditioning factors of early Indian child-training -cause not only the con- 
flict but also the resultant type of behavior. 

or suppress all response is a human reaction, and one which 



the Dakota children see their elders exhibit on numerous occasions. It is the Sioux 
pattern not to give one's self away or show any emotion which would lower 
one's self-respect or pride before outsiders. 

Running away from a difficult or overwhelming situation is also learned by 
the Dakota cKild. Asli little child he is taught to run away at the appearance 
of whites. He sees his parents quit work or move from a community when they 
do not like or cannot face a situation. According to the Dakota pattern, it is quite 
acceptable to escape personal conflict by running away, and no stigma is attached 
to such action. Hence it is to be expected that children who do not adjust easily 
to school will run away. Moreover, the child is not punished when he runs home. 
The problem_pf embarrassment or being ashamed is more difficult because it is 
such a common reaction among Dakota children and is evoked for no reason per- 
ceptible to the teacher. The reader is already aware how strong a social pressure is 
exerted by ridicule and criticism. Perhaps examples of how this is taught the 
child and the emphasis laid upon conforming and keeping up with the group will 
explain why the Dakota child is so sensitive to shame. 

Young boys used to make a little camp outside the camp circle. In imitation of 
their warrior fathers they would try to slip into their homes and steal food. Those 
who returned to the boys' camp without food had marks painted on their faces 
as a sign of disgrace. 2 

This attitude still appears in the children's games, in spite of their adoption of 
white competitive sports. Not so long ago, a school track team was reluctant to 
run because they knew they could not win, and a basketball team did not want 
their parents and neighbors to come to an interschool game for fear they would 
laugh at their mistakes or failure to win. 

Thus the white man's desire to excel is turned by the Dakota into a fear of 
becoming ridiculous through losing. It is this attitude that makes children with- 
draw and become highly embarrassed when they are asked to recite in broken 
English or to perform before others in things they are only learning to do. 

Behavior between boys and girls is also a problem to the teacher new to the 
Indian schools. The younger boys and girls voluntarily divide into sex groups 
when they come into the classroom and sit at different tables. Teachers often 
attempt to change this habit, not realizing that it is deeply intrenched in many 
of their students. This custom usually breaks down easily in group games, but 
in spite of classroom influence the children maintain strong sex divisions through- 
out their day-school years. 

Aggressive behavior on the part of the boys 3 and the girls' fear of them, which 
are deeply ingrained in Dakota culture, also tend to maintain sex divisions in 
school. Observers in this study noticed that children passing in the school halls 
and playing in the yard showed an amount of aggression not characteristic in 


white schools. Boys were constantly hitting or pushing the girls, who sometimes 
retaliated by fighting back or ganging up on a single offensive boy. Teachers 
received many complaints about the boys' behavior, and parents occasionally 
came to school to register their complaints about the treatment of their daughters 
at the hands of the boys. 

Before passing to the description of older children's behavior, it is important 
to note that problems which are so apparent among the adolescents and adults 
at Pine Ridge begin very early in the individual's life. The day school, by the way 
in which it treats the child when he enters school and helps him to adjust, to find 
security and happiness, can reduce much of the conflict and prepare the child 
for a more stable adjustment in later life. 


1. Winning war honors, giving away property, and adhering to womanly virtues. 

2. Black Elk, Black Elk. Speaks (Xew York: W. W. Morrow & Co., 1932), p. 59. 

3. For a discussion of Sioux aggression see chap, xii and Appendix II. 



f I ^HIS chapter covers roughly the years from eleven to seventeen in the life of 

I the Dakota child, including the last years a child spends at home before 

JL going to boarding school, the boarding-school years, and entrance into adult 

life. Physiologically this period covers both late childhood and adolescence; but, 

because the Sioux child's life centers on the boarding school, the material of this 

chapter has been organized around it. 

The age at which students enter boarding school depends on the number of 
grades in the day school in their home community. Some children begin boarding 
school as early as the seventh grade. Most of the reservation children, like those 
of Wanblee and Kyle, enter at the ninth or tenth grade. Age at entrance ranges 
from fourteen to eighteen. 1 


By the time the child has reached his twelfth or thirteenth birthday, his home is 
still the only place of any security. Within his Indian society, there are no other 
groups and few activities in which he can participate and form any bonds of close 
relationship. At home, his family relations appear on the surface to be happy and 
pleasant, but many of the boys show restlessness under the direction and discipline 
of their mothers. Although the fathers undertake some direction of their sons' 
behavior and work at home, this authority often appears very ineffective. There 
are, however, some marked exceptions, like Charlie Charging Bull's father, who is 
described in the next chapter. 

The strong traditional bonds between Dakota brothers are also evident at this 
age when boys do not stay so much in their homes and begin to rove about the 
district in groups. As a rtile, boys are kind and loyal to their sisters and act im- 
mediately in their defense. However, life-histories and school reports reveal an 
increase in fighting between boys of this age group in both the home and the 
school. Perhaps this is due in part to the type of behavior allowed and encouraged 
in boys when they are younger, but the strong resistance at this age to parental 
control and the development of quarreling with age mates are forms of over- 



aggressive and rebellious behavior which reveal anxiety as well as signs of 
growing up. 

At home the boys now accept responsibility for doing household and farm 
chores and, by the time they are fourteen or fifteen, many accompany their fami- 
lies or go alone to work in the harvest fields of white farmers. For those who go 
with a gang of men or married brothers and their families, this is an opportunity 
to break away from the confinement of parental control. Boys at this age leave also 
because of their desire to travel and to see the towns outside the reservation with 
their rodeos and movies. 

Girls of twelve and thirteen show behavior almost opposite to that of the boys. 
They become more identified with the family as they become old enough to take 
an adult role with their mothers in the household work. They continue to look 
after younger brothers and sisters. In fact, if there are many children in the 
family, the older sister carries much of the responsibility of feeding and bathing 
the small children. The sketches of Mickey and of Priscilla in the next chapter 
show examples of the role and important function of the older sisters in the 

The twelve- and thirteen-year-old girls, now approaching physical maturity, 
are kept at home more than the boys for protection. The girls appear afraid of 
boys and men, and they always travel with older girls or elders in their family. 
This is in keeping with the old Dakota custom; for, even though the girls now 
have many opportunities to travel alone going to school, to the store, or to social 
affairs they do not seem to wish to go by themselves. Observers in this study 
noticed that very few girls of this age ride horseback, although many girls a few 
years younger ride around the communities in the summertime. Formerly girls 
and women rode when the family traveled, but they gave up riding thirty or 
forty years ago when missionaries and teachers made them feel it was immodest. 2 
Older girls and women today travel in their communities either on foot or in a 

The older girls rarely play with boys of their age; the separation of the sexes in 
play, started at an earlier age, now becomes complete. This is due in part, of 
course, to the fact that the boys spend many of their out-of-school hours on horse- 
back, while girls do not. Outside the school, girls' association with people at any 
distance from home and their attendance at church meetings, young people's 
groups, and community dances are always under the chaperonage of their fam- 
ilies or older women. On a few occasions our observers saw young full-blood girls 
going to a community dance in company with older brothers, a situation that 
would never have occurred when the brother-sister taboo was in force. 

The girls like to go to the outlying towns and to the harvest fields with their 
families or relatives, for these occasions provide almost the only opportunity for 



them to see the world outside the reservation. The motion-picture theaters are 
the greatest attraction. During the winter months the children in the rural areas 
see movies at school, but these are shown infrequently; in the school year of 
1942-43 the school at Kyle had none at all. 


The education of Dakota children at the Oglala Community High School at 
Pine Ridge town follows the objectives and methods of the earlier grades. 3 A 
graduate must have credits in English, history, mathematics, the social and 
physical sciences, and vocational training, but much of the education in these 
fields is acquired through integrated project work. The high-school projects are 
centered around the school herd and farm, the girls' practice cottage and home 
economics workrooms, and the arts and crafts shop. The major objective is to 
teach the fundamental knowledge required by people who are going to live by 
cattle and the land in a small rural home and in reservation society. 4 

Boys learn by doing all types of work necessary for the successful running of 
beef herds. One of the most important activities in the practical training is a junior 
livestock association, through which boys can earn cattle by work at school and, 
on graduation, take them home as a foundation herd. Simple carpentry and 
machine repair needed to service the farm home and equipment are also part of 
the boys' training. 

Girls are taught the essentials of home management, including nutrition. They 
may also learn at school a number of crafts which will bring additional income 
into the home, and many become skilled weavers and potters. 

Allied with the vocational training in some respects is the performance of school 
maintenance work by the students. Such work as the care and milking of the 
school dairy herd, repair work, and the construction of new buildings like a 
rammed earth barn can readily be made valuable training in farm life. Helping 
in the school kitchen and dining-room may also be useful to girls. But operating 
the school laundry machines, cleaning the campus and classrooms, and similar 
chores fall into the category of institutional labor, whatever training value may 
be connected with them. Owing to the limitation of appropriations for Indian 
schools, such work is necessary; but its educational value is slight, and much of it 
is still carried on as a traditional part of the former school system where the aim of 
the superintendent was to make the school self-sufficient, regardless of the educa- 
tional value of the work involved. 

In the field of social studies the main emphasis is on reservation organization. 
Study of the structure and function of the local agency^ tEe"a>nstitution and tribal 
government of the Pine Ridge Indians, and the history of the Indian Service and 


its policies are all designed to give the students knowledge of how their society 
functions. The general subjects in the field of civics are also included. 5 

Equally important to the education of Dakota youth is experience in self-gov- 
ernment. The student body has its own council for directing the school social 
activities and advising faculty committees on student problems. The girls have a 
councilor system in their dormitory, and the boys have a dormitory government of 
mayor and officers modeled after the famous Boys' Town in Omaha. These self- 
government institutions serve both as training in democratic methods and as 
practice in the exercise of group controls and responsibility to the group which 
are sorely needed in the adult reservation society. 

The boarding school has a fully developed recreational life which follows the 
pattern of athletics, entertainments, dances, and parties in the average American 
high school. The Oglala football, baseball, basketball, and track teams compete 
with other high schools in the regional and state tournaments. Classes present 
plays and exhibitions. The dormitory groups entertain one another at evening 
parties of dancing, games, and refreshments, and about once a month a class or 
the student council holds a school dance in the gymnasium. The three motion- 
picture shows each week in the school auditorium, one being free to all students, 
are major recreational events. 

Except for an occasional week end at home and a short Christmas vacation, 
the boy or girl attending boarding school is separated from the lif e of 1 his com- 
munity for nine months of the year and is brought into a society organized in a 
white pattern with many differences from his home life. For one thing, his whole 
day at school is regulated by time, from six in the morning, when he arises to the 
power-plant whistle, to nine-thirty in the evening, when he is ordered to put out 
his lights. Classes, chores, athletics, study hall, and meals all take place according 
to the clock. The Dakota child has had some experience with a regular schedule 
in the day school, but life completely run by the clock calls for considerable ad- 
justment on the part of many Indian children who, as noted in the preceding 
. chapters, have little acquaintance with white concepts of punctuality. 

Eating and sleeping are also different. The three large and regular meals to 
which the child sits down each day in the dining-hall and the regular eight hours 
of sleep are not usual in the Indian home. 

Cleanliness and neat personal appearance become much more important than 
in the day school. This is strongly impressed upon the child when on entering 
school he is examined for head lice and skin sores and, if necessary, treated by 
the advisers or school nurse. He is sent at once to the showers and given clean 
clothes, and much pressure is brought to bear upon him to keep clean. Each 
child must keep his bed and personal property in orderly condition and help to 
clean his dormitory room and building. 


In the boarding school the child has many more teachers than in the elementary 
school. His home-room teacher organizes his project work as well as teaching the 
academic studies. There are also music and vocational instructors, athletic 
coaches, directors of social activities and maintenance work, and dormitory ad- 
visers. The child's association and informal relationships with many white and 
Indian teachers are a very important factor in the development of his personality 
-and attitudes at this time. He comes to these persons for help and decisions 
which he would normally expect from his parents. Through personal relation- 
ships that occur outside of class, the teacher learns more of the student's character 
and has the opportunity to advise and direct in his development. 

In addition to the advice and guidance which the teachers offer in both formal 
and informal contacts, their way of life has a very strong, though indirect, in- 
fluence upon the attitudes of the children. In comparison with the rural homes of 
Indians and most whites on the reservation, the teachers' homes seem luxurious. 
Their clothes, their cars, and their trips off the reservation are a sharp contrast to 
the colorless and, on the whole, empty life of most adult Dakota. These things 
have obviously come to the teachers through salaried positions, and the inference 
to the children is that salaries make possible the good life. Hence, many children 
come to look upon Indian Service or other salaried employment as preferable to 
farming or ranching. Thus the objectives of the school teaching children the 
values and satisfactions of life on the land are partially negated by the values 
and satisfactions of life as an employee which are always apparent to them. This 
paradox is, of course, unavoidable and, to some extent, it exists in many teaching 
situations elsewhere. It does, however, create doubt and conflict in the minds of 
children in the reservation schools. 

The social relationships between boys and girls in the boarding school are 
based on the modern white principles of "normal" associations of young people 
in the classroom and on the campus. The Indian boys and girls "date," walk and 
sit together, and meet in the town as do students in any small-town high school. 
Restraint and self-consciousness are common among Indian children when they 
enter boarding school because this type of behavior is not sanctioned in the home 
communities. However, movies, magazine stories, the visits to white high schools, 
and the example of older boys and girls soon overcome the traditional pattern of 
avoiding the opposite sex in public. In general, boys and girls are well behaved 
and friendly toward each other; the hitting and slapping so common between 
the young boys and girls decreases among those of fifteen and sixteen. Occasion- 
ally, the love affairs in school lead to couples' running away. 

Up to about 1930, student behavior was controlled by the boys' and girls' dis- 
ciplinarians, who were allowed to employ severe physical punishment. This type 


of discipline has now been banned, and the milder penalities invoked today take 
the form of deprivation of privileges and loss of prestige. A more positive control 
of behavior has been attempted through the organization of student government, 
but the general effect of the present disciplinary system is lack of consistency. In 
the classroom the teachers punish misbehavior by scolding, threatening, or 
frightening the child and depriving him of privileges. In a few classes teachers 
have organized student government and presented serious problems of offenses 
against the class, like stealing from the treasury, for group discipline. In the dor- 
mitories the advisers reprimand students for minor infractions of the rules but 
present the major cases to the dormitory council. Punishments meted out by the 
council vary from doing extra cleaning work in the building to losing social 
privileges and positions in the student government. In some serious cases, the 
boys send the offender down the "belt line," which is unofficially sanctioned. 

Consistent offenders, children who continually skip classes, run away from 
school, or become behavior problems to all their teachers, are reported to the 
faculty guidance committee. However, the action of this committee is frequently 
indecisive, and the cases are left for further discussion or ultimate solution by the 
dormitory advisers. 

The difficulty in making discipline more effective seems to rise from doubt as 
to where authority for invoking sanctions lies. Serious cases, such as drunkenness 
or entering and stealing, are referred to the reservation superintendent of educa- 
tion. In especially difficult cases, school officials occasionally prefer charges in 
the Tribal Court. This is usually in connection with damage or stealing of prop- 
erty, getting drunk, and sex affairs, types of behavior which are particularly 
offensive to the white teachers. In the several charges so preferred against boys 
and girls in 1943, the usual action was to suspend sentence, exact court costs, and 
place the student on probation to the school. Thus the law was invoked, only to 
return the case once more to the school. Furthermore, the school is not always 
consistent in preferring charges. In the case of one boy, who was jailed for stealing 
and drinking denatured alcohol, charges were withdrawn by the school in a few 
days because the jail did not seem the "right place" for him and, incidentally, he 
was needed to play in a basketball game. 

In spite of the comparative lightness of sentences imposed by the Tribal Court 
and the inconsistent attitude of the school, thejtudents manifest a strong fear of 
the jail a fear which comes down through the whole historical experience of the 
tribe on the reservation. 6 The modern school discipline of utilizing the Tribal 
Court, which is against official policy and regulation, serves to perpetuate a 
negative attitude rather than to create a useful and positive one. Thus it seems 
obvious that the invocation of court sanctions in even a very few disciplinary cases 


creates a heightened emotional reaction against the school and serves to add to 
the child's frustrations rather than to secure better behavior. 

The boarding school is to the great majority of the students an interesting and 
even exciting environment. The interests of school work, the physical comfort, 
which is indeed luxury as compared with their own homes, and the associations 
with schoolmates and teachers often make the high-school years among the pleas- 
antest and most eventful in their lives. Yet the great majority of the students who 
enter high school do not graduate. The reasons why the school does not hold more 
students have been the subject of study by the Indian Service and may be in- 
dicated only briefly here to show their effect upon the personalities of Dakota 
adolescents. Some of them lie in the nature of the environment and have little to 
do with the form or content of the school experience. Others may be attributed 
either directly or indirectly to the conflicts set up by school life. 

Among the reasons which may be said to lie outside the school are the facts 
that some students are too old on entering to be expected to finish the course and 
also that many families need the assistance of older children in increasing the 
family income. Students who are sixteen or seventeen when they are high-school 
freshmen are likely, by the time they near twenty, to leave for work or marriage. 
Withdrawal to help the family may well be expected in a poverty-stricken society. 
At present, most older boys are joining the armed forces. 

Another reason for withdrawal seems to lie in the economy. A small number 
of students leave before finishing high school because the type of education they 
receive is designed to equip them for a life they believe they cannot live. Many 
students and their families have no land on which a boy or girl can run cattle and 
no money to lease land. Furthermore, students do not see in their home com- 
munities very good prospects of a happy or profitable life on the land. It takes 
several years to make money from a herd, and adolescents are likely to become 
pessimistic at seeing men with more experience than themselves living by rations 
for a year or two in order to become even moderately self-sufficient. To these stu- 
dents, life off the reservation and the immediate returns from wage work appear 
far more attractive. Why, they ask, should they go on preparing for something 
else? This attitude and the expectation of getting wage work after graduation 
are frequently expressed. 

More important than the foregoing reasons to a study of personality are the 
truancies and drop-outs due to conflicts between the white and Dakota systems 
of training and treatment of children, especially in discipline. Like many Indian 
schools, Oglala Community High School has a high proportion of runaways who 
leave school for a short time or for good. In recent years they have been fewer in 
number, but they are still frequent enough to show difficulties of adjustment. 


The size of the student body 690 day and boarding pupils and the conse- 
quent lack of much personal attention or affection lead to insecurity in children 
whose family, even if it were broken, has always given them a sense of pro- 
tection. Hence, they flee from the school to the home of a parent or relative to 
regain what little security is afforded there. Children brought up by parents who 
in the Indian fashion rarely reprimand, who patiently wait until a child wishes to 
carry put a request, and who do not enforce immediate responses with threats 
of punishment find the disciplinary measures of many white teachers difficult to 
accept. Being shamed or ridiculed by a teacher before other children on the cam- 
pus and being threatened with court action cause a number of children to become 
resentful and run home. 

Frequently the conflict arises from having to do things at set times and without 
choice. For example, during the testing for the present study, one somewhat 
sullen full-blood boy with considerable artistic ability did not wish to complete 
the drawing tests, partly because he was suspicious and partly because he did not 
want to do extra work. He sat through the drawing period and then called his 
brother and ran home with him. The older boy was allowed to leave home in a 
day or two to work in the beet fields, and the younger brother remained out of 
school until the boys' adviser from the school inquired at the home the reason for 
the prolonged absence. 

Conflicts between the full-blood and mixed-blood groups in the reservation so- 
ciety cause some children to leave school. These conflicts, stemming from dif- 
ferences in habits and attitudes of the two groups, are symbolized by the children 
in terms of color. Since many of the light mixed-bloods are indistinguishable 
from white children, they are frequently called "white" and "dirty white trash" 
by the children of predominantly Indian blood. The mixed-bloods sometimes 
retaliate by calling the darker children "nigger," but usually the term of oppro- 
brium is "dirty" or "lousy Indian." 7 The older mixed-bloods look upon full- 
bloods as "dumb" and "backward." The full-bloods consider mixed-bloods 
"tricky," "liars," and (surprisingly to whites) "dirty." Older full-blood girls, who 
are often neater and more poised in their manner, dislike rooming with mixed- 
bloods because they are unclean and rowdy. The full-blood girls are especially 
concerned at having mixed-blood girls see them undressed. 

As might be expected from the sex code described in chapter viii, older boys 
and girls frequently run away for illicit sex affairs. In these cases it is frequently 
the younger brothers and sisters at school who bear the brunt of the criticism 
which the Sioux have developed to a fine art Two boys and two girls ran away 
from the Pine Ridge school and spent several days and nights in an abandoned 
cabin, afterward leaving the reservation. The younger sister of one of the girls and 
another relative, who were also students in the boarding school, were teased about 


this affair by other students and were accused of being immoral themselves. The 
two young girls were so shamed by the criticism that they asked to be allowed to 
go home. When they were refused permission, they ran away. The police were 
sent for them, and they were put in jail until the mother of one took them home. 
These examples show that, when Dakota children under pressure from great 
conflict can stand the tension no longer, they run away. The high sensitivity to 
criticism also appears as a related cause for running away. This behavior is the 
extreme and more explicit overt form of withdrawing internally from situations 
the common reaction of Dakota children under stress, as we saw in chapter x. 


- On leaving high school, the Dakota boy or girl must decide whether to return 
home or leave the reservation to make a living, unless he plans to go to college or 
vocational school. Deciding what to do and where to go is normally difficult. In 
1938 only 36 out of 239 former students of the three high schools on Pine Ridge 
and the adjoining Rosebud Reservation had left the reservation for more than 
short periods. 8 This was due in part, of course, to the lack of jobs elsewhere during 
the depression years and to opportunites for relief employment on the reservation. 
Since 1940 this trend has been reversed, and in recent years most boys and many 
girls have left school to join the armed forces or to work in war industries. 
Neither situation is "normal," but the tendency to remain on the reservation 
except in boom times is clearly indicated. 

Why do Dakota youths prefer to stay on the reservation, where income is low 
and where life on the whole is dull compared with that in urban centers where 
they can earn more money ? The answer lies in part in^the strong sense of family 
<$plidarity whicMsjm^ to the Dakota child. Perhaps more 

apparent, k jthe fact, that Indians have difficulty in adjusting to life in white 
cbmm&aki&s. Yet the adjustments whicE theTormer" "students must make if he 
returns to his own home are in many ways more difficult. 

When boys and girls go away to high school, their home is the place of greatest 
security. They return to it after high school, hoping to regain the security and 
affection they remember from their childhood. But with the need to earn a 
living and take party in family and community life as young adults, the realities 
of life at home appear in a stronger light. The idleness of many of the men, the 
lack of opportunities, the dependence of the people upon the government, the 
conflicts and instability within families and communities, and the pressure of 
criticism undermine the young people's faith in themselves and in what educa- 
tion can do for them, as well as their security in their own group. 

Life at home is easier and yet harder than at boarding school. On the one 
hand, the returned student is free from school discipline and routine; on the other 


hand, he meets the folkways and controls of Indian life. Young unmarried men 
and women are not allowed to associate as freely in the Indian community as 
they are in school. They find that life at home is dull in comparison with the 
activity of classwork, sports, and social life at school. Many young people also find 
that the limited and rather monotonous meals and the crowded quarters at home 
are irksome. 

Economic adjustments are hard for some youths, particularly the boys. They 
have been trained at school to live on the land, principally through running beef 
herds. Some boys have returned home with a few cattle earned through a junior 
livestock association, which they could use as a foundation for their own herd or 
pool with their fathers' cattle. But many boys have left school without cattle, or 
they have had no land on which to run stock or money with which to start opera- 
tions. Sons of landless families who return home must look for such wage work 
as they can find on the reservation or go outside with their families for seasonal 
agricultural labor. As a result, many boys are likely to question the value of their 
school training. 

Nonagricultural wage work on the reservation is largely limited to employ- 
ment by the Indian Service. Most of the non-civil-service jobs are those of truck- 
drivers, laborers, janitors, carpenters, and automobile mechanics. Each school 
has one or more bus-drivers, who also tend the heating and lighting plants, and a 
housekeeper who cooks the noon lunches and assists the home economics teachers. 
Wages are low in 1942 school bus-drivers were receiving $60 a month but the 
rent for government quarters and other living costs are also low. 

The opportunity for a high-school graduate to obtain one of these jobs is 
limited, for they are coveted by older people. The young people are likely to try 
for jobs at the Agency itself to escape the constant requests for assistance from 
relatives if they live in their home communities. 9 

Each year there are a few young people who go on to college or vocational 
school to prepare for civil service positions as Indian Service teachers, farm aides, 
or clerical workers. Almost universally they plan to seek employment on reserva- 
tions other than their own. Some of them see such work as an escape from pres- 
sures for assistance at home. To others it is a way of moving into middle-class 
white life. Whatever the reason, the fact that these young people wish to work 
elsewhere is indeed a handicap to their tribe, for it means a loss of potential leaders 
and intelligent citizens. 

For the students who do remain on the reservation, there are strong incentives 
to participation in community life. Their school training in leadership and their 
awareness of the poverty and frustration at home lead many of them to say, "I 
want to do something to help my people," and to try to improve living conditions. 

The elders expect the young people who have gone to school to help their own 


communities. At the same time not always consciously the older people expect 
the youths to adhere to the Dakota custom of remaining silent before their elders 
and of following the more experienced leaders. This paradoxial attitude is dis- 
turbing to young people who feel that, with their greater knowledge of English 
and white culture, they can and should take some leadership in Pine Ridge affairs. 
Leadership is also thwarted in some instances by the attitudes of white ad- 
ministrators. While official policy directs the encouragement of Indian leadership 
and self-direction, administrators are well aware of the reservation-wide belief 
that most! of the troubles of the Pine Ridge Indians are due to the mistakes of the 
government. They know also that, since early reservation days, criticizing the 
agent or other officials in public meetings has been a form of counting coup 
(striking the enemy to win honor). Hence there is a tendency to treat the young 
Indian who voices opposition to government programs as a reactionary, an "agita- 
tor," or a show-off. The fact that some young Indians have professed a desire to 
better community life but have remained apathetic in the face of opportunities for 
leadership does not help relations between the whole group and the Agency. Too 
often, really thoughtful criticism or constructive suggestions are officially ignored. 

The end result of returning home after school is thus dissatisfying for the 
majority of Pine Ridge young people. Although they find reservation life prefer- 
able to the social isolation they experience in white communities, the restraints 
imposed upon them by their elders and by government and the lack of satisfying 
community life of any kind frustrate and confuse them. They.find few social or 
economic channels either in their home communities or in government programs 
by which they can gain stability, economic success, and recognition. Life at home 
offers no other roles than those of their fathers and mothers. They feel a deep 
need for new roles and for social status. 

This desire for some function and for recognition is readily apparent in the 
eagerness with which the younger Sioux have volunteered for military service 
and war industries. Their patriotism is as genuine as that of any other Americans, 
but they see also an opportunity for activity that circumstances at home have 
denied to many of them. In the eyes of the older people, and to some extent of *the 
younger, the warrior's is the greatest role of all. To the young men and women it 
means something to do, a chance to be respected by Indians and whites alike. 
They gain deep satisfaction from the sense of equality with other young people 
and from being wanted in the outside world a satisfaction that these Pine Ridge 
youths have never felt before. 

The exodus of boys and girls from school to jobs outside the reservation is al- 
most a new phenomenon at Pine Ridge. It is said that many Pine Ridge Indians 
went away to work during World War I, but between that time and 1941 ex- 
tremely few young people went away to work in industries and to live in cities. 


A study of the off-reservation employment of Rosebud Sioux made in 1941, 10 
in which many Pine Ridge Indians were encountered, showed that Dakota young 
people who were taking their first jobs or who had been employed off the reserva- 
tion for two or three years varied widely in their success in working and living 
among whites. Some young people had done well in their jobs and, by proving 
their ability to do skilled work, had advanced in their occupation. More showed 
instability by moving from job to job or by going back and forth between reserva- 
tion and town. Social adjustment was not easy for any of them. 

Coming to town with little money, they were forced to live in the poorest 
rooming-houses and sometimes in auto camps. Only when they have achieved 
some fairly well-paying job could they move to better quarters. Characteristically 
these young people shared rooms and in general clung together, since their friends 
were usually other Indians. The 1941 study showed that older Indians moved 
into good neighborhoods and participated in white society only after years of 
residence in a large town. Even after ten or fifteen years, their clubs and church 
guilds were white in pattern but Indian in membership. 

The social isolation in a white town which many Dakota young people experi- 
ence 4s very discouraging. Young white people coming from the country are 
also isolated, but they make friends and become accepted more easily and quickly 
than Indian boys and girls, who do not know the folkways of whites and are not 
sure enough of their English to associate easily with them. To whites, their 
speech is odd, and their reserve and timidity make them seem unapproachable or 
queer. Until they learn how to talk and act like white people, they are excluded 
from white society. Sensitive to this exclusion, many Sioux are unable to stick it 
out. They give up the attempt to be accepted by whites and associate only with 
Indians or leave their jobs to return to the reservation. 

A few boys and girls fail to form attachments to either respectable white or 
Indian society in the towns and yet do not want to return to the reservation. These 
young people drift to the bottom of the social order. Caught up with the worst 
element of the white or Indian slums, they live in the shoddiest rooming-houses 
or Indian camps at the edge of town and frequent the cheapest beer joints, dance 
halls, and other gathering places of slum-dwellers. Occasionally they are picked 
up for delinquency or vagrancy. They may have had no work or food for days. 
Police or social agencies usually return them to their homes. Thereafter they 
may be classed as delinquents, but beneath their surface behavior may be seen 
their inability to find any place in either Indian or white society and their con- 
fusion at trying to adjust to two conflicting cultures. 

It appears that, whether Pine Ridge boys and girls decide to return home or 
to leave the reservation for work, most of them do so at a price. On the reservation 


there are few jobs at good pay. In the outside world recreational and social life 
are limited, at least in the first years of residence. Not all boys and girls fail or 
follow the same pattern of adjustment within or outside their own groups, but 
the majority indicate difficulty in fitting into their social environment and a 
sense of frustration because there is no way to follow and often more ill-will than 
help from those around them. 

Training in the schools is giving Dakota youth a preparation for an economy 
that will develop in time on Pine Ridge, for intelligent daily living habits, and 
in many ways for living in any community. But the younger generation appears 
generally unprepared for their social position either at home or off the reservation 
and the difficulties they will have to face after their school years. More important 
than their lack of social preparation is the absence of a well-organized society and 
well-marked channels to economic rewards and social status. The reorganization 
which has already begun in some Pine Ridge communities will eventually make 
opportunities for young people in the cattle programs- and business and social 
councils. In the meantime, boys and girls returning from school will need the 
planning and active support of their communities and government officials to 
give them an opportunity and a place at home. 


1. Most students of Pine Ridge town continue on a day-school basis, and thus boarding-school life 
does not affect them so intensely as it does those who come from the outlying districts. This study did 
not include any children who were attending the Holy Rosary Mission or off-reservation boarding 

2. Allan Hulsizer, Region and Culture in the Curriculum of the Navaho and the Dakota (Federals- 
burg, Md.: J. W. Stowell Co., 1940), p. 104. 

3. The high-school studies at Holy Rosary Mission follow the older type of academic education, but 
rural vocational work -has recently been introduced into the curriculum. 

4. Willard W. Beatty, "Training Indians for tfie Best Use of Their Own Resources," in The 
Changing Indian, ed. Oliver La Farge (Norman, Okla.: University of Oklahoma Press, 1942), pp. 128- 

5. Office of Indian Affairs, Students' Handbook, Oglala Community High School, 1942-43 
(Chilocco, Okla.: Chilocco School Press, 1942), and "Employees Handbook of Information, 1942-43, 
Oglala Community High School" (Pine Ridge, 1942) (mimeographed). 

6. See chaps, ii and viii. 

7. These names are often used by the younger children without knowing the implications. For 
example, the little mixed-bloods who look like white children will boast, "We're no Indians we're 
white trashl" 

8. Armin H. Sterner and Gordon Macgregor, "The Pine Ridge Vocational Survey," Indian Educa- 
fto*,m (1938), 7-8. 

9. See chap. viii. 

10. John Useem, Gordon Macgregor, and Ruth Useem, "Wartime Employment and Cultural Ad- 
justments of the Rosebud Sioux," Applied Anthropology, II (1943), 1-9. 

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f | SQ BEGIN the account of the findings of this study about the personality 

I structure of Dakota children, sketches of ten children are presented. These 
JL children vary in amount of Indian blood from full-blood to three-sixteenths, 
and their ages range from eight to sixteen. They come from the three communi- 
ties of the study. The personal and social adjustments of these children vary from 
excellent to very poor. Some of these variations may be partly accounted for by 
physical conditions or family losses, which may befall the individual in any so- 
ciety; but the influence of their particular cultural position and social climate is 
apparent in most of these personalities. 

It is a premise of this study that a disorganized and threatening social environ- 
ment causes for a group, as for an individual, great anxiety and feelings of inse- 
curity. People attempt to build defenses against this state of feeling helpless. They 
try to find safety or to retaliate against the forces that appear to threaten their 
security. The resulting behavior is derived from a whole complex of circum- 
stances. Therefore, in order to understand the behavior of the children as revealed 
in the tests which were given them and which are described in the following 
chapters, we must consider the kind of personality which has developed among 
the Pine Ridge people as a whole. 

The general disorganization of Dakota society today has been discussed in Part 
I. What have been the effects of this disorganization upon individuals and par- 
ticularly the effects of the conflicting attitudes described in chapter viii? 

The first years of life on the reservation left indelible marks upon the Dakota. 
With his social institutions deteriorating around him and white institutions and 
attitudes being forcibly substituted, the individual felt overwhelmed and confused 
from trying to make some choice. One reaction was to withdraw into himself and 
to cover up his feelings. This constraint in the face of new situations is a pattern 
of behavior which has been taught to Indian children for generations. It is the 
"stoical reserve" which whites have noted as characteristic of the Plains Indians 



since their first contacts. In the face of continuous changes and repeated frustra- 
tions, this reserve has been employed for so long as a means of playing safe that it 
has kept the individual from giving much release to his impulses or gaining any 
real satisfaction from life or confidence in himself. The continued retreat inward 
appears to have contributed to the characteristic apathy which marks the life of 
each reservation community today. As previously noted, the observer is constantly 
aware of the slowness and the low degree of social activity of reservation life. 1 
However, a human being cannot continually suppress his emotions and the 
expressions of his impulse life without compensating in some way, which may 
become personal maladjustment. For men like the Dakota, who have been 
trained to be highly aggressive persons with suitable targets for their aggressive 
drives, continual suppression is bound to result in some violent expression of their 
frustration. 2 In the increased amount of personal criticism and the splitting of the 
tribe into progressives and conservatives, New Dealers and Old Dealers, co- 
operative association members and competitive individualists, sociological full- 
blood and mixed-blood groups, who hurl at one another such epithets as "dirty 
Indian" and "poor white trash," some release of their aggression can be observed. 
The pattern for this criticism stems from the old culture in which the most com- 
mon means of social control was ridicule. 3 In the first days of reservation life it 
was impossible for every man, woman, and child to "freeze up" under the new 
circumstances. Many began to adapt themselves to the life the Agency held out to 
them, although retaining their outward calm. These individuals were severely 
criticized for "joining the enemy" and for not conforming to approved Dakota 
behavior. As their group grew, they in turn criticized the "long-hairs" or con- 
servatives. Thus application of social controls developed into an increasing 
amount of criticism and pure release of hostility. 4 Frustrated at almost every 
turn and in a short time psychologically defeated by the sudden and overwhelm- 
ing changes, they began to turn upon one another and upon themselves. 

Hostility 4ias- tees-expiJesjSfidUA.^ore violent ways than constant criticism. 
Every so often there occurs some violent personal outbreak in a killing or a rape 
or the wholesale destruction of property. On one occasion a house was burned 
around a drunken occupant. Every white person who has lived in the reservation 
for any length of time can report such incidents, usually ascribed to "native cruelty 
and barbarity." These are the outbursts, usually released under influence of al- 
cohol, of too-long-pent-up antagonisms against the government employees, all 
whites, Indian neighbors, and even themselves. 

Some of these outbursts take the form of cruel behavior for which there is 
some precedent in warfare, scalping, and mutilating adulterous women. Now 
that attack upon enemies has been completely blocked, men have turned in- 
creasingly, in times of uncontrolled frenzy, upon women. The restriction placed 


upon women in the past society made them objects of man's sexual aggression. 
It is not difficult to understand how men, suddenly blocked in one course o their 
aggression, should turn in another direction. Since there had been tacit approval 
of sex aggression in the old society, this became a natural channel for aggressive 
drive which had been denied other outlet. 5 Thus restrictions in one direction have 
produced greater activity in another. It is not surprising to find occasional reports 
of rape or murder and extremes of sexual license. 

Another kind of destructive behavior, which is evidence of the restraint which 
the Dakota have placed upon their inner life, is the self-punishment they exhibit 
in times of extreme tension. A model for such behavior can be found in the tor- 
ture features of the Sun Dance, in the ordeals of the vision quest, and in the self- 
mutilation of mourners at funerals. There was also self-punishment, or institu- 
tionalized suicide, in warfare among those who vowed to die rather than retreat. 
The forms of self-punishment today are less stylized and harsh than in the old 
culture, but the practice is still apparent. For example, when one woman heard of 
the sudden death of her husband, she promised to give away all his household 
furnishings, horses, and stacks of hay, and her male relatives tore up the husband's 
garden and destroyed his irrigation darn. On the departure of draftees, mothers 
attempted to throw themselves under the train. These reactions were in direct 
response to emotional shock, but now the loss of members of the family group 
also brings anew the realization of overwhelming personal and group insecurity. 
A more common form of self-punishment is anxiety about one's health, wel- 
fare, and relationships to other people. Anxiety about personal well-being is not 
surprising among people who are not only impoverished but also dubious about 
ever making a living from the resources they possess. Worry about where tomor- 
row's meals are coming from, about getting money, about being held down, about 
poor health, and about "what is going to happen" is constantly expressed in daily 
conversations. This worry develops into a chronic state of apprehension. 

The Dakota have found in escape another, but equally unsuccessful, release 
from their situation and individual constraint. This behavior, too, has precedent 
in all Dakota practices. A family ashamed of one of its members would leave for 
another camp; a child ashamed or momentarily insecure in his family could enter 
for a few days the tepee of a near-by relative, though such an act was damaging 
to his parents' reputation. Nowadays escape from home, school, reservation, job, 
and white community has become a common reaction to shame and frustration. 
Today this running away no longer provides a satisfactory solution, for in each 
new situation there is still insecurity. Frequent movement from place to place, 
which has often been ascribed to the Dakota's nomadic background, functions as 
an unrealistic effort to escape and reflects the great unrest of the people. 
The physical and social environment, then, have brought excessive insecurity, 


anxiety, and confusion to the Dakota since their segregation on the reservation. 
In an attempt to find some individual security and safety from their apprehension 
and relief from the problems confronting them, their typical reaction has been to 
restrain and suppress themselves and to become highly dependent upon the gov- 
ernment. Such an adjustment has brought neither personal satisfaction nor per- 
sonal security. As a result, individuals have become highly aggressive under 
increased strains, have run away from situation after situation, and have become 
highly apprehensive about themselves. Frequently, in a sort of emotional ex- 
haustion increased by physical weakening, they become completely apathetic. At 
times individuals have worked hard to gain economic security, often to be de- 
feated by drought or by the inconsistencies of administrative policy. 

The younger adults have not experienced all the woes which have beset the 
tribe, but they have sensed the despair and frustrations of their elders. They are 
more willing to work for some security, but they have become anxious through 
association with the more defeated and unrealistic older people. It is in this social 
environment and among these attitudes that the present generation of children, 
to whom we now turn, are growing up and being conditioned. 


Red Bird is an eight-year-old girl whose degree of Indian blood is reckoned in 
thirty-seconds, a fractionation which signifies that her ancestors intermixed with 
whites several generations ago. Since then there has been marriage into the full- 
blood group. Red Bird now lives with her paternal grandmother and grandfather, 
Amelia and Frank White Horse. Their home is in a full-blood community com- 
posed of the grandfather's extended family group. 

Frank White Horse, a man past sixty, is a leader and spokesman in his com- 
munity. He has married several times, and occasionally his grown-up children by 
former marriages come to live with him. One son, Charlie Wolf, is Red Bird's 

Red Bird's grandmother, Amelia White Horse, has been married four times. 
Three children are recorded from the first marriage, to a man who has since mar- 
ried her sister. By her second husband she had four children and by her third 
husband, two a girl of fourteen and a boy of ten, who are now living in the 
White Horse household. 

Mrs. White Horse is an affable and intelligent woman. She is now quite de- 
voted to her husband but a few years ago had a serious quarrel with him. After 
a heated argument, he left for a relative's home. She not only packed up and left 
for another part of the reservation but also, with the help of her brothers, carried 
off her husband's stove and all his furniture to furnish a new home of her own. 
Despite such temporary disagreements and the history of shifting mates, the 


White Horses are now a congenial couple. They maintain a stable home, running 
cattle, milking cows, and together planting and plowing their cornfield by hand. 
The new house is a three-room shingled structure, furnished with five beds, a 
few chairs, a table, and a stove. In spite of the crowded quarters and the number 
of children and visitors, Mrs. White Horse keeps it neat and well ordered. 

The White Horses are among the group of older people who have settled down 
and taken responsibility for their children and grandchildren. Mrs. White Horse 
in particular is devoted to them and frequently travels by team in the summer 
to visit older sons and daughters who are working outside the reservation. 

Red Bird and her two little sisters have lived with her grandparents for over 
three years. In fact, the younger sisters, who came to them as babies, only recently 
learned that the White Horses are not their own parents. To Red Bird the grand- 
parents are kindly and soirietimes overindulgent, allowing her to stay home from 
school as she pleases and feeding her candy in the trader's store when she should 
be in her classroom. When Red Bird is strongly disciplined by a teacher, her 
grandmother will come to her defense regardless of her behavior. Mrs. White 
Horse was particularly indignant when Red Bird was spanked by her primary 
teacher, a type of discipline of which the grandparents do not approve. Red Bird 
maintains a certain amount of control over her grandmother by threatening to 
leave home and go to her mother if she cannot have her way. She is allowed 
occasionally to visit her mother, who lives in the home of her parents in a distant 
community; but visits are not encouraged, as the child usually returns sick and 
infected with impetigo. 

Red Bird's father, Charles Wolf, is divorced from her mother. He is employed 
off the reservation by the government, and occasionally returns to visit his step- 
mother and father. He is a good worker and earns high wages as a mechanic, but, 
like many Indian men of his age group, has few qualms about dissipating his 
money if his wife and family are not with him to keep him in control. Red Bird's 
relations with him are not very deep, but she regards him as her father and some- 
times threatens to go to live with him. 

Of her mother's people the Howling Buffaloes Red Bird has a grandmother 
and step-grandfather. Red Bird's own maternal grandfather, who died about 
the time she was born, was much older than his wife, to whom he had been 
married by arrangement with her father. This grandmother had four children, 
and, when she was widowed, she married her present husband. The family lived 
for many years off the reservation, the stepfather putting up hay or harvesting 
potatoes for white farmers in the summer and doing odd jobs in Rapid City 
during the winter. 

Mrs. Howling Buffalo had two children by this marriage who died in infancy. 


Her four living children by the first marriage are Red Bird's mother, Cleo; a son 
who is a well-known rodeo performer; and a son and daughter now in high 

Red Bird's mother, Cleo, married about ten years after she left school. After her 
expulsion from school she was put in jail for vagrancy on the streets of a near-by 
city. She first lived with Charlie Wolf near his home, in a little house that his 
mother gave them. She was always a shiftless housekeeper. Although her mother- 
in-law disapproved of her habits, she left it to her son and his wife's mother to 
reprimand the girl. After Red Bird was born, her parents lived in a tent while the 
father was employed on C.C.C. projects. She was moved from place to place as the 
work progressed and was sometimes left with her paternal grandmother, who 
occasionally took her to kindergarten. In these camps, Red Bird's mother lay in 
bed mornings, reading pulp magazines, while her husband got t up and made 
breakfast for himself and Red Bird. Her care of the child was very poor indeed. 
The baby was badly undernourished and nearly died of pneumonia at the age 
of two. 

Six months after Red Bird's youngest sister was born, their father obtained a 
divorce and married again. Cleo wished to give him the children, but her mother 
insisted that she keep them. However, the Howling Buffaloes soon went away, 
leaving Cleo and her three babies to shift for themselves in the family home. It 
thus became necessary for Cleo to take the children to their paternal grand- 
mother, Mrs. White Horse, for adequate support. 

Cleo then ran away with an Indian sailor. In the spring of 1943 she returned 
home and had a baby in the following winter. Red Bird was well aware of the 
expected new baby and visited with her mother for a few weeks during the 
pregnancy. To her the" arrival of a new sister was an exciting and absorbing event. 

Red Bird is a thin child with dark skin, flashing brown eyes, and a sullen 
mouth. She is definitely underweight and appears to have been undernourished 
most of her life. Her general health is poor. At times she appears listless and again 

Toward her indulgent grandparents she shows no very deep affection. She 
quarrels with her fourteen-year-old Aunt Mary and steals her rouge and lipstick. 
Her ten-year-old Uncle John is rarely a companion of Red Bird or Mary in the 

Red Bird's playmates at home are her three- and four-year-old sisters and her 
eight-year-old aunt, the daughter of Mrs. White Horse's sister. This child lives 
in a near-by community, where the White Horses live during the summer, and 
she and her brothers are constantly at Red Bird's house for meals and play. 

At school, Red Bird suffers from inability to make any satisfactory adjustment 


either in her class work or with her teachers and classmates. She entered the 
second grade with a conditional promotion. Red Bird is blocked and extremely 
cautious in her approach to new work; but, once she grasps it, she shows some 
capacity and alertness. Pressed to do well in spelling, for example, she will learn 
her words and make a perfect score for a few days but then become careless and 
relapse to a below-average score. She frequently runs away from school for the 
afternoon. This may be partly due to her inability to master all her work, but 
probably it is largely the result of her emotional instability. Criticism or imagined 
failure usually makes her withdraw either mentally or physically from school 
work, but at times she will become defiant, throwing her papers on the floor and 
refusing to co-operate for the rest of the period. Like many Dakota children, Red 
Bird takes more pleasure in drawing than in any other school work. She differs 
from the other second-grade girls in showing little interest in the dolls and play- 
house. In the first grade she played with them as often as it was permitted. 

With her classmates Red Bird is passive and not very sociable. On arrival at 
the school she frequently goes into the girls' washroom to remain until classes 
begin. Red Bird will not play with the boys in her class and frequently slaps them 
when she meets them in the halls. She likes to talk about boys to her teacher. Red 
Bird admires older girls, particularly "the pretty ones," as she calls the girls with 
neat appearance and attractive clothes who return from boarding school. Red 
Bird apparently imitates them by trying to comb her hair in the latest boarding- 
school style and by overuse of cosmetics. Her blatant rouge and lipstick, untidily 
painted fingernails, oddly rolled and cut hair, and excess of pins and jewelry give 
her, perhaps, a feeling that she looks grown up. 

The teacher has had some trouble with Red Bird over stealing articles like 
scissors from the school, so that she has had to be searched for some weeks to 
break the habit. 

Red Bird's major difficulties are immediately evident in her tests. Her Grace 
Arthur Performance Test gives her an I.Q. of 86, but her Goodenough Drawing 
Test gives her an I.Q. of 123. The great discrepancy in these two scores is a key to 
h'er problem. As revealed in her spelling lessons, Red Bird is able to do good in- 
jiellectual work, but she cannot function on a consistently adequate level because 
she is greatly disturbed emotionally. 

Her Rorschach and Thematic Apperception tests show that she fails to respond 
to her inner promptings and that she has little drive. To the outside world she is 
passive, and, being strongly blocked, her relations with others are strained. Al- 
though she is unstable and withdrawn from others, when they arouse or thwart 
her, she is likely to respond in a defiant and rebellious way. Such behavior has 
been exhibited both at 'home and at school. Red Bird has made and accepted few 


social controls. This has so hampered her relationships with her age mates that 
she has only one real school companion, a little girl who is as emotionally dis- 
turbed as herself. 

Red Bird's tests also indicate that there may be already some sexual disturbance. 
Her practice of hanging around the girls' washroom before and during school 
hours, her interest in older girls, and her attention to her appearance also suggest 
a possible overdevelopment of sexual interest. This may be stimulated by associa- 
tion with her mother. 

In the light of Red Bird's family record and her own history, it is not surprising 
to find that her psychological tests reveal her as a genuinely frightened little girl 
with definite anxieties. She is handicapped by a poor physical condition and by 
her inability to utilize her intelligence efficiently. Her short span of life has cer- 
tainly been sufficiently varied and dramatic to create great emotional unbalance. 

Red Bird has become very uncertain of herself from her family situation. Re- 
jection by her mother has been a distinct shock. Although her mother has made 
clothes for her, visited her in school, and taken her home for a week or two, this 
brief indulgence without a continued affectionate relationship has been very un- 
satisfying. Her father once offered her much support, but his departure from the 
family scene and his responsibility for other little girls have created consternation 
in Red Bird's mind. Toward her indulgent grandparents, she reveals no deep 
affection. In one test, she stated that the happiest things she could remember were 
"when Grandpa and Grandma died" and "when Uncle went to war." This untrue 
statement about her grandparents shows not only the lack of any close bonds with 
them but also probably wishful thinking stirred by resentment or anxiety. The 
best thing that could happen to her, she says, is "go to heaven." 6 This remark 
's unhappiness, if not a real wish to be dead. A child with her 

attitudes and anxietyls indeed in"serious difficulty. 

Red Bird's personality and history show dramatically how Dakota children are 
being affected by their surroundings and how their development is being warped 
by their present cultural disorganization. Her story has been presented at some 
length to show the disorganization in her parents' and grandparents' lives and its 
bearing on her development. The shifting of mates and moving of children from 
home to home by her parents and grandparents are not unusual among their 

Red Bird, who has average capacities, and probably had originally normal 
freedom of action, apparently has had such painful experiences that she is now 

Her whole attitude toward life seems to be one of 

wariness and restraint. She is undoubtedly an extreme case, but she presents a pat- 
tern of personality development that is characteristic df many children on the 



The Running Elks, a family of pure Indian descent, live in an attractive, painted 
farmhouse surrounded by small trees and a low fence. The father built this house 
through a rehabilitation loan from the government. Later he purchased land 
adjacent to the house for a garden. The house is superior to most full-blood homes 
on the reservation. 

The father died several years ago when Winona and Robert were five and 
three years old. For many years the father had been an employee of a neighboring 
white storekeeper, driving the store truck and working in the white man's fields. 
He spent most of his vacations visiting other reservations to see the Indian fairs 
and celebrations, particularly the Sun Dances. Winona and Robert remember 
their father clearly and look upon the summer trips taken with him and the rest 
of the family as high points in their lives. 

The mother remained a widow until recently. A neighboring widower moved 
into the house to help her with the chores after her oldest boy went into the 
Marines. After discussing the matter through the mails with her elder son, the 
mother decided to marry this man. Whether the younger childen were also con- 
sulted could not be learned, but doubtless there was some discussion of the event 
beforehand. The children's relations with him were not reported. 

There are now three boys and three girls in the family, all from the mother's 
first marriage. The first two children born to the parents died. Richard, a crippled 
son, lives at home. The oldest daughter, Elizabeth, also lives at home, helping with 
the housework and younger children. She dropped out of school when she felt that 
she was too old for her class and school work. The next sister, Jane, spent some 
time in a tuberculosis sanatorium, where she became fluent in English and more 
like white people in her behavior and attitudes than the rest of her family. She has 
found much difficulty in adjusting to an Indian home and the sudden freedom 
thrust upon her. She ran away once and was picked up by Rapid City police for 

"This full-blood family is related to a line of able Indian leaders. With the 
exception of the middle sister, Jane, the family appears very stable and cohesive, 
affording security and affection to each member. Winona, aged ten, and Robert, 
aged eight, are the youngest children. As the next oldest child is the sister who 
has been in the sanatorium most of their lives, there has been an age gap between 
Winona and Robert and their older brothers and sisters at home. The oldest 
brother is very fond of the youngest children and wrote them constantly from 
his Marine camp. He took Robert with him for a summer while he worked in 
the beet fields before he went into military service. 


Winona and Robert attend a day school. Their mother forbids them to play 
with the neighboring white children, and so, since they have no near-by Indian 
neighbors, they play and ride together. 

The mother reared her first children in typically indulgent Indian fashion; 
but, beginning with Jane, she trained her last three babies by white methods 
taught her by an aunt, a Chilocco graduate and a trained nurse. Winona's toilet 
training began when she was only two months old. When she was five months' 
old, her mother became ill and had to put Winona on a bottle, which was given 
her according to a regular schedule prescribed by the mother's sister. At fifteen 
months, Winona pulled the nipple off the bottle and began to drink out of it; 
so her mother began feeding her by cup. This child training, revolutionary among 
the full-blood Dakota, caused some stir among the older uneducated relatives. 
The mother's brother would come to the house and watch the little baby and 
then shake his finger at the mother and say, "This is no good; this is white man's 
way." He was particularly shocked that the mother would let the child cry and 
not feed her when she demanded it. The mother, however, did not carry her 
white pattern of training to the extreme of early discipline in other forms of 
behavior and has never spanked Winona. In later years the mother was fre- 
quently ill, and much of Winona's and Robert's training fell upon older brothers 
and sisters, who had been trained in the Indian fashion. 

Winona is now a handsome and "typical" young Indian girl in appearance. 
Her Indian features are accentuated by her big, soft, black eyes and her two long 
braids of black hair. She has never been ill and now has the appearance of radiant 
health. She has a great deal of poise and a ready smile but also the reserve char- 
acteristic of well-bred Dakota. During this survey, she was usually seen alone, 
walking to the store for some small purchase or playing about the house. At home 
she shows the usual Indian child's interest in drawing. She keeps her papers, 
crayons, and funny papers in paper sacks neatly tucked away in her bureau 
drawer. Her mother remarked that she is neat about her property and her dress 
and that she was very careful not to hurt the small trees planted around the 
house. Winona, like her father, is a Catholic, and attends church fairly regularly. 
The mother is an Episcopalian, as are Winona's younger and oldest brothers. 

In her school work Winona does not show the accomplishments that she could 
achieve. While eager and diligent in her studies, she shows no special interests. 
She is slow in reading, possibly owing in part to the fact that the family speaks 
Siouan at home, although they all can speak good English. Winona's behavior 
with her classmates is a bit hostile or aggressive at times, possibly as a way of 
gaining attention. She has been heard to call other children names, and she 
causes trouble in other ways. She was once sent to Pine Ridge to the boarding 


school but returned home after one night; her parents did not force her to return. 
Recently she walked out of her present school when two boys tugged her braids. 
Her mother returned her to class, demanding that the teacher punish the boys. 
In general, Winona keeps to herself but would like more associations with chil- 
dren of the same age and interests. Her teacher finds her agreeable to authority 
and direction and willing to run errands and co-operate. She is quite self-sufficient 
in managing her daily affairs. 

Winona's test scoresan I.Q. of 141 by the Arthur test and 117 by the Good- 
enough Drawing Test place her among the most intelligent of the tested group 
of Dakota children. Although she has good drive toward intellectual achieve- 
ment, her interests run to practical and commonplace matters, as her school work 
shows. She is self-contained, but she places no undue restraint on her sense of 
humor 7 or her ability to act with good understanding and to make decisions. She 
is, however, outwardly cautious and formal, following the behavior of a well- 
trained Dakota girl. 

She keeps up her contacts with other people but feels little dependence upon 
them. She also has a tendency to consider relationships and situations for her 
own benefit. With most adults, and particularly her teachers, Winona is com- 
pliant, but with her mother, Winona feels some resentment because she attempts 
to control Winona's behavior more than she likes. The mother, as a woman fre- 
quently ill and upset by the loss of two children and a husband, does not appear 
to have given Winona the intimate associations that a child needs. The mother's 
recent marriage and previous ambiguous relationships with a man who has sup- 
planted her beloved father may also cause some of Winona's unfriendliness 
toward her. The relationship with her mother appears to have directed Winona 
toward becoming self-contained, and the restrictions which her mother placed 
upon her have handicapped her in making wider social contacts and developing a 
better basis for making friends. Otherwise, Winona is an extremely able and well- 
adjusted young girl who is learning to live in her community without becoming 
suppressed or losing the best personality qualities of her Indian heritage. 

Robert, the youngest child, was born twelve days after the oldest girl in the 
family died. His mother, ill in the hospital, was overcome with grief. The doctor 
advised her to put Robert on a bottle immediately. He was allowed' to keep it for 
eighteen months. In explaining this, the mother said, "I guess because he was the 
last baby we thought he wals sort of sickly, so we treated him that way." As in 
the case of Winona, his feeding was by schedule, and he was allowed to cry 
rather than be fed at odd hours. His toilet training was also begun very early. 

Robert's family life has given him much satisfaction and pleasure. He feels 
important in it and enjoys good relationships with all its members. His mother 
he accepts as the controlling person and from her receives much consideration 


because of his supposed early frailty. However, he is not submissive in accepting 
her authority. He has the same yearning for his father that Winona shows. 

Robert appears now to be a quiet and self-contained boy, who tends to be re- 
tiring. He plays with his sister but more frequently plays alone, preferring fishing 
to competitive games. He has one occasional companion in a boy of his age who 
rides some distance to Robert's home. 

Although he might have attended kindergarten at the age of five, Robert did 
not begin school until he was seven, because his mother believed that he was not 
strong. He entered the day school in the spring of 1941 but did not attend regularly 
then or during the next year. However, he was promoted along with his grade. 

Robert shows superior intelligence an I.Q. of 128 in the Arthur and 144 in the 
Goodenough test. His intelligence is evident in the manner in which he handles 
situations that call for thought. He is practical and checks facts against statements, 
but he is not very systematic in organizing his ideas. His teacher reports that he 
is an "average" student who is interested but not steady in his work and is likely 
to dream. His tests also show that his excellent intellectual abilities are handi- 
capped by a habit of daydreaming and a lack of drive and persistence. 

Robert has a mature inner life for a boy of his age and prefers his fantasies and 
solitary life to sociability. The fantasies are used for release from a slight insecurity 
which he feels with others. Usually he is restrained in the presence of others, but 
at times he acts impulsively. 

Robert is a very pious youngster and accepts a religious control of the world 
that is not characteristic of many other full-blood Dakota children. He mentions 
God several times in his tests as the authority and the rewarding and punishing 
agent of people. 

In his personality development Robert appears to be a boy who has been some- 
what overprotected at home because, as a small child, he was thought to lack 
robustness and vigor. This has retarded slightly the development of his social 
techniques, so that he appears in his social behavior younger than he actually is. 
However, with his intellectual endowments and continued associations with 
many other children at school, he should develop rapidly. Like his family, he will 
probably adapt to white life, but he will also be proud of and content in his 
Indian heritage. 


Charlie is a fourteen-year-old full-blood boy 'with" a round and merry face, who 
lives in a dilapidated log cabin on the outskirts of a small town. The family con- 
sists of father, mother, and older brother and sister. About five years ago Charlie 
lost a brother a year younger than himself. 

The Charging Bulls came to their present home only a few years ago. Before 
the drought of the 1930's they had a small but well-stocked farm; when crops 


failed, the father abandoned it to work on reservation relief projects and then as 
a farm laborer. Thus the family has moved about considerably. In none of the 
places they have lived have they had close relatives or a neighborhood with which 
they had blood ties. They now live among miscellaneous Indian families, who 
remain in the community only as long as there is work or a need to send their 
children to school. There are also a few resident traders, a hotelkeeper, and white 
employee families. 

Charlie's father is a large, bowlegged man, who associates with very few people 
in the community. He is usually quiet but is known to have an uncertain temper, 
threatening to fight or kill when he is sharply crossed or when he thinks any one 
of his family has been abused. The community fears what he may do. He appears 
to be a companion to his two boys, frequently riding over the range with them. 
However, reports of neighbors and the behavior of the children indicate that 
he is domineering and scolding in the home. He has made his family, especially 
Charlie, very much afraid of him. He teases Charlie and tells him stories that 
worry him. 

Charlie's mother is a tall, thin, and seemingly carefree woman, who also teases 
him. She does not directly threaten her children, although she occasionally makes 
remarks to them such as "If you weren't my son, I'd pound you," or "You sure 
make me mad." She is more amused than antagonized by Charlie and frequently 
remarked to interviewers in describing his behavior, "He sure is funny" and 
"That sure tickled me." She is similarly amused by her young daughter, who is 
something of a tomboy and a rough playmate of her brothers. When Charlie was 
little, the mother disciplined him with the traditional Sioux child-f righteners, but 
this ended when one day he said about a spirit she described as living in the 
creek, "Mommer, that's your imagination. You ain't got no sense." The mother 
now attempts to discipline Charlie by keeping him out of school when teachers 
complain of his behavior, but privately regards many of his pranks as great 
jokes. Like her husband, she is not loath to rush to the defense of her children and 
has, on a few occasions, threatened to fight other women. The mother says, how- 
ever, that disciplining the boys is the father's business and that she has enough 
to do to look after her daughter. 

The father and mother corne from different communities;. neither has relatives 
near the present home. The mother went to boarding school, where she had a 
reputation as a trouble-maker and leader of gangs against unpopular individuals. 
In her present community she has more friends than does her husband, but she 
also is considered to be a very slovenly housewife by other Indian women. 

Charlie, her second child, was a fat, dark baby. His umbilical cord was not tied 
well by the midwife and bled for six days. His mother ascribes this as the cause 
of his occasional fainting when he was a little boy. He remained fat but weak. 


When his weight broke his baby "walker," his mother sat him up in a horse collar 
on the floor. She kept his hair in long braids until he was six. He was weaned at 
about thirteen months but was given oatmeal and gravy when he was nine 
months old. At fourteen months he began to walk. He learned his toilet training 
from watching others, but, until he had achieved this, he used the floor or went 
out of doors. 

Charlie had a speech difficulty during his infancy and early childhood, and he 
refused to talk like other children until he was about eight years old. Until this 
time he had a few words of his own making, by which he made known his 
wants. When he started to talk, speaking only in English, he was already at- 
tending play school. About this time his younger brother died. Charlie still 
lisps a bit and stammers when he becomes overexcited. He usually speaks in 
English now, even replying in this language when addressed in Siouan by his 
bilingual parents. He skips many words and is said to do this also when speaking 
in Siouan. 

Charlie now teases his mother in return for her jibes. He says the bacon looks 
like bad potatoes and, if asked to do something, often says, "If you can't do it, I 
think 111 just let it go." He does not have any such joking relations with his 
father. His older brother, Jerry, is his usual companion outside school hours. 
They support each other when others attack them, and Jerry boasted about 
Charlie when he competed successfully against him; but they have had several 
fights and are quite constantly arguing. Yet, when Jerry left for the Navy in 1943, 
Charlie went along with him and tried to enter also. Charlie plays with his older 
sister, Lucy, at home; but, as there is some difference in years in their ages, she is 
not a real companion. Lucy shows a masculine identification by her behavior in 
her rough-and-tumble family, and, when she speaks Siouan, she uses the mas- 
culine endings, as if she were a boy. 

At school, Charlie has the reputation of being "bright." He works rapidly but 
not thoroughly. He was promoted twice in the past year, because he seemed so 
far ahead of his class and also to keep him busy and thus prevent him from 
annoying other students. He has been temporarily expelled several times for 
causing trouble. Charlie has been very annoying to one teacher, whom he can 
easily force to lose her temper. He picks on little boys and girls and has the 
reputation of being bullying and mean. One teacher reported he had "a cruel 
streak." Charlie is usually involved in any fighting or destruction of school prop- 
erty. In spite of this, he gets along well with the one male teacher and works well 
for him. He has few playmates outside his family and, when he does find one, 
soon loses him because of fighting or hurting him. 

Charlie has an I.Q. of 101 by the Arthur test and 121 by the Goodenough. He is 
not the brilliant or exceptional student that his school record might imply. He 


seems to show no real intellectual accomplishment but a quick and artificial dis- 
play which impresses his teachers and wins their praise. He is unable to organize 
his work well, and this may keep him from making a better record. He has 
creativity and originality, but anxiety about himself and his relation to others 
keeps him from giving any real expression to his inner life. He appears to use it 
as a retreat and escape, daydreaming and building fantasies that have little 
relation to reality. 

Charlie's personality appears to be built around his fundamental insecurity and 
anxiety. The quarreling, hitting, destructive behavior he exhibits is reaction to 
aggression, or fear of aggression, from others. He is afraid to strike back at elders 
and bigger children but picks on smaller ones. He throws rocks at the school and 
destroys property to express his antagonisms. This reaction is impulsive and only 
halfhearted; figuratively, he appears as if he were thrashing his arms about fiercely 
and crying in fear at the same time. Fundamentally, he would like to be passive, 
to be treated kindly and affectionately, but the world continues to prick him, and 
he does not know what to do with himself or how to build up friendly relation- 

His aggressions toward girls are partly based on his impulsively reactive 
lashing-back at weaker individuals but seem also due to sexual anxiety. He is 
uncertain of himself in this sphere and unable to be more direct. 

Charlie appears to be a young adolescent unsure of his family ties and with no 
loyal relatives to support him in the community. He tries to build up favor and 
attention for himself by good performance in school work, but this is only a 
show that does not win him the satisfaction or security he desires. He appears to 
be anxious and floating in a social milieu that affords him no moorings. 


Melville Le Gasse is a boy of nine, whose black hair, brown eyes, and light- 
brown skin mark him with stronger Indian characteristics than is expected of 
persons of less than one-quarter Indian blood. He has the full physical develop- 
ment expected of a boy his age. Until the fall of 1942, Melville and his family 
were almost the only mixed-bloods in their full-blood community. They moved 
here about five years before from a white farming district in a neighboring state, 
leased several allotments of land, and borrowed money to start a cattle herd. In 
their former home the family associated with whites and near-whites. Melville 
had no playmates of his own age in the neighborhood; for one year he attended 
a kindergarten in the near-by town. 

His mother, a very light mixed-blood, grew up off the reservation. The fact 
that her father was white and a wealthy farmer by local" standards gave her a 
good social standing in the neighborhood. Since they lived in the country, her 


parents had to send her to a nonreservation boarding school, but she resented 
the association with an Indian group and the treatment she received from 
teachers. Marrying a man of Indian blood and moving to the reservation to live 
among Indians have been embittering social steps downward. She now keeps to 
herself, devoting her attentions to her children and occasionally bringing some 
relative, a light mixed-blood like herself, to visit in her home. 

The father a dark mixed-blood with marked French features also grew up 
off the reservation. He farmed rather unsuccessfully after he married and looked 
for greater success when he moved onto his reservation land. He is an unstable 
person and has not managed his cattle very efficiently, often leaving home to work 
as an agricultural laborer. He sends back little or none of his earnings and returns 
penniless. His long periods of idleness and roaming about with other Indians 
have kept the family poverty-stricken and often without food in the house. In fact, 
Melville frequently comes to school without breakfast. The habits and irrespon- 
sibility of his father have led to family quarrels, to which Melville is usually 
witness. His mother scolds and browbeats his father. 

Melville has three older sisters, who attended a public school and then boarding 
school, and a brother, Henry, aged sixteen, now away at a nonreservation board- 
ing school. He also had a younger brother and sister, who died, but no informa- 
tion was obtained about Melville's relationship with them. In 1942 one older 
sister, Mildred, eloped with a young, full-blood man but was brought home by 
her parents. She now lives at home, a close companion of her mother and a 
second mother to Melville. She has bought him clothes and most of his Christmas 
gifts out of her earnings from working in homes in the near-by village. Melville 
appears to be fond of his older brother, Henry, and writes frequently to him in the 
letter-writing periods at school. 

In his early training, Melville's mother followed the practices of the near-white 
group of mixed-bloods. She raised him on a bottle with canned milk. She also- 
spanked him, as did his father, a means of discipline which they have decreased 
but have not yet given up. Having no playmates near by in either his former or 
his present home, Melville has played by himself around the house. Occasionally 
he rides with his father to look after cattle and mend fences. His mother does not 
encourage Melville to play with the full-blood children, saying that he does not. 
understand them, and she has directed his social orientation so that already he 
regards himself as white. This is her attitude toward her own social position. She 
dislikes receiving services from the Indian Agency and having her sons in Indian 

In his social relationships in the Indian day school in 1942, Melville sought his 
teacher's protection and gave her his confidence, particularly about his home life 
and the difficulties of his parents. Melville admired her and her home, which is 


superior to any of the other homes he has visited. He played with the boys in his 
class but had difficulty because he demanded to be the center of attention. Occa- 
sionally he would pick a fight and then run to his teacher crying or complain 
later to his mother that he was picked on. He was looked upon as something of a 
sissy because of his slightly effeminate behavior. This quality was heightened 
when he accepted the leading feminine part in a class play a role that no "good" 
Sioux boy would consider. Occasionally he ran away from school for an afternoon 
to play with an older boy and a distant relative. Melville showed good interest 
in his studies, but his teacher felt he was capable of doing better work. 

Melville scored an I.Q. of 104 on the Grace Arthur Performance Test and 111 
on the Goodenough Drawing Test. His Rorschach and Thematic Apperception 
tests reveal him as an immature boy with a great sense of insecurity, worried that 
he may not retain his role of bal^ in the family and continue to be the subject of 
constant and protective attention. His anxiety is great, and his confidence in his 
parents or their affection is slight. This insecurity is reflected in a fantasy where 
he suffers and dies to cause his parents worry. In one story he pictures himself 
gone for days on his horse, while his parents search frantically. In another story 
he is a rugged cowboy who is kicked in the head and finally dies, much to the 
sorrow and anxiety of his father. Although the boy seems to enjoy the com- 
pany of his father on the range, actually he makes no hero of him. His mother 
seems to be a little closer because of the protection she affords him. His brother 
and sisters, whose actual relationships to him seem to be affectionate and pro- 
tective, do not appear so in the tests, indicating possibly that they are not the 
source of support that one would expect. No reference is made to his dead 
brother or sister, who may have supplanted Melville in the affection of his parents 
and thus started his great feeling of insecurity. Although he appears desirous of 
punishing his parents and himself in his dreams, there is no observed evidence 
that he has been aggressive or harmful. He is more likely to run away from 
school or feign sickness to stay home with his mother. 

Melville's insecurity and anxiety appear to be derived from the precarious eco- 
nomic and social status of his family. His mother is unsatisfied in her social am- 
bitions and anxious over the family's economic position. She disparages his father 
before Melville. She also indulges and overprotects her son and keeps him from 
better social development by restricting his play with age mates. Melville, lacking 
ties with parents or age mates, puts himself in a submissive position to gain their 

Melville appears to be trying to solve his emotional problems by removing him- 
self from them and consciously intellectualizing about his situation. At other 
times he resorts to his imagination and achieves his ambitions in fantasy. When 


he reacts overtly, he does so rather crudely and impulsively. Caught in a struggle 
between impulses from within and sensitivity to his environment, Melville ranges 
in his behavior from compliance to rebellion. His problem in his adjustment to 
society lies in finding a balance between these forces. 


Ginny is an eight-year-old girl with light-brown complexion, bright dark eyes, 
and a round, cherubic face. Outside her Indian community she might be easily 
taken for a little French girl, and not without reason, for she has more French 
than Indian heritage, with only three-eighths Indian blood. Ginny is an energetic 
and competent little girl, quite able to look out for herself and her brother Peter, 
who is a year younger. 

They are the youngest of a large family of children, half of whom have already 
left home. Three older brothers and a married sister now still remain at home with 
then- mother, Ginny, and Peter. Their home is a very small, boxlike frame house, 
divided into kitchen and bedroom. They have a stove, a table, a few chairs, two 
beds, and a dresser. As the home cannot accommodate all the family, the older 
boys sleep either in a tent or in a neighbor's house. 

This family has always been extremely poor and has received much help from 
the government and relatives. The father comes home only on rare occasions, 
and, although he has recently been well employed, gives very meager and ir- 
regular assistance to his family. 

The mother is not always able to work. She has just managed to keep her 
family with the aid of relief and some private charity and by sending some chil- 
dren to boarding school. Attempts by other people to help her have not always 
been well received. She has become a very cranky and antagonistic woman, filled 
with complaints against the school and government. In her behavior she shows 
the resentment and hurt pride that often come from being an object of charity. 
The mother has also been harassed by the behavior of her older children, who 
have participated in promiscuity and petty crimes, for which they have been pun- 
ished in court and severely criticized by neighbors. 

At present only Ginny, Peter, and an older brother, Alexander, aged ten, attend 
school. Alexander is a rather sullen and effeminate young boy who frequently 
makes complaints about his teachers. This usually brings his mother to his defense 
or wins him a temporary absence from school. He quarrels with Ginny and his 
brother. Fighting among the children now at home appears to be a common 
occurrence. Contrary to Sioux custom, the younger ones are punished by their 
mother if they start trouble with the older ones. 

Ginny was nursed until she was eight months old and then put on a bottle. 
Her mother was very proud of her for being quick to acquire toilet training. 


When she was about two, and again at four, she had pneumonia. At an early age 
she learned to help with the housework, and by the time she was seven she was 
able to get meals for a sickly neighbor who had been left home alone. Her mother 
says that she has trained Ginny by talking to her, but she has also spanked her on 
several occasions. This usually happens when Ginny runs away from home to 
play at the store. 

Ginny speaks with pride of her father and appears to be treated very kindly by 
him when he returns home. She states that he has never spanked her. She does not 
appear to be very intimate with Alexander but looks after Peter in a quite 
maternal way. At school she is very careful that he does not forget his coat or 
cap, and has fought with boys in his defense. She also looks after the baby 
nephew who lives with his mother in the Reynard house. 

At school, Ginny is popular with her classmates, according to her teacher. She 
was enrolled at five in school and by this time greatly enjoys being in class. She 
is now a leader in the group and takes responsibility in helping the other chil- 
dren. She does good work, has a good imagination, and is rather mature for her 
age. Both at home and at school she appears self-confident and very responsive to 

Ginny 's tests show a well-organized, superior intelligence; she scored an I.Q. 
of 119 on the Arthur test, although only 99 on the Goodenough. She has a wealth 
of imagination, which she freely and fully reports. This quality is a great help to 
her as a release and escape from strong^ depressive and aggressive feelings. These 
feelings appear to be derived from a deep-rooted insecurity in her brothers and 
sister and concern about her relation to her mother, who, she feels, has greater 
affection for the other children. Their quarrelsome and antagonistic behavior 
increases this uneasiness. 

Ginny, however, has not become quarrelsome herself. She has diverted such 
feelings and energy into a maternal and protecting behavior, which we have seen 
directed toward her younger brother, nephew, and classmates. In this respect she 
has become a well-socialized individual and, by protective relationship, has cov- 
ered her real anxiety about her acceptance by others. Underlying this, however, is 
a craving for affection. 

, '^Ginny is mature in her development and has sufficient inner resources to aid in 
the stability of her adjustment. She has a tendency to introversion. Her problem of 
jealously of her brothers and sister and the repression of hostility felt against them 
should not create any further social problem for her, because of the way in 
which she has handled it. She tends, however, to organize things to an exceptional 
^degree for an eight-year-old girl. She is overambitious and controlled beyond the 
reach of the usual emotional ties to other people. In spite of the seeming excellence 
of her adjustment, any overstrain or increase of tension at home might upset this 


adjustment, causing her either to withdraw completely or to burst into hostile 
and antisocial acts. 


Mickey is nine years old, the youngest of the nine children of a white man and 
a woman of three-eighths Indian blood. All the children have white skin and 
features that reveal none of their Indian heritage. 

Mickey belongs to the second set of children reared by his parents. They had 
four children, and then five years elapsed before the five younger ones were born. 
Two of these older children have gone to Omaha; one has married and now lives 
on another part of the reservation; the fourth lives in the home. The family lives 
in a well-built four-room cabin on the edge of a village. Mrs. La Flesche has sisters 
also married to whites, who are living on a near-by allotment. These families 
maintain close relations among themselves and have friendly, though not very 
intimate, social ties with the general Indian group. 

Mickey's father is described as an irritable, dominating man in his late sixties. 
His bad management of a small area of poor land has kept the family poverty- 
stricken. He has worked unsuccessfully for years, and, in an effort to maintain his 
family, he has dissipated his children's resources by selling their allotments. His 
social contacts on the reservation are limited, and his closest associates are his 
brothers-in-law. The father's place in his family is not very strong. He is quite 
demanding of them, and no one seems to feel closely attached to him. He works 
daily in his fields with the oldest of his sons who lives at home. Mickey's associa- 
tion with his father is apparently limited to mealtime. 

On Mickey's mother falls most of the responsibility for the support of the fam- 
ily. She is a busy, hard-working woman who spends much time working at a 
store. She is too busy in her employment and household tasks to give any pro- 
longed attention to Mickey or any other single member of her large family. Al- 
though she is fond of all her children, her two eldest girls who have married more 
successfully to whites are the center of her interest and conversation. Others of 
her children and relatives are continually visiting in the household. At one time 
there were eighteen living in and around the home. 

The household is normally composed of the parents, Mickey, two older sisters, 
two older brothers, and one younger brother. Important to Mickey are one older 
sister, Louise, and his older brother nearest him in age. Louise was mainly re- 
sponsible for Mickey's training and care, his mother being too involved with the 
next baby and household duties to give him much attention after he was about 
a year old. Since then, however, Louise's interests have turned to her youngest 
brother. The break in this relationship has forced Mickey to seek companionship 
with his twelve-year-old brother Ralph, but Ralph frequently fights with Mickey 


over petty things and makes life miserable for him. Mickey brings few playmates 
to his home but enjoys playing with his little brother. 

Mickey does good work in school, fulfilling his assignments willingly and con- 
scientiously, but he is anxious to complete them so that he may play or talk with 
other children. He is very popular with his teacher and the boys and girls of his 
age, although the more timid children and their parents complain that he is 
quarrelsome. Mickey maintains a good disposition on the playground, and his 
belligerent moods pass as quickly as a cloud blown across the face of the sun. 
All the teachers of the school and the white people of the town are fond of him 
for his cheery responsiveness. 

Mickey took his tests eagerly and asked to repeat them. His intelligence tests 
showed he has a superior mentality : I.Q. of 111, Arthur test, and 120, Goodenough. 
He is capable of better school work than he demonstrates. His Thematic Apper- 
ception Test shows that he enjoys greatly the numerous pleasant contacts with 
other children. However, he is less interested in intensifying these relationships 
than inUeveloping his inner life. 

Some of his responses to the tests show that he has no real love or respect for 
his father. Instead of the idealized picture that some young children paint of their 
fathers, Mickey seems to view his father much as he has been described above 
an aloof, irritable, unaffectionate old man. Mickey's feelings for his mother and 
his family reflect the constant come-and-go of people. His concept of a family is 
one of a friendly yet slightly unstable group of people, rather than a loving and 
cohesive unit that would help to give him a firmer feeling of security. He feels 
that his mother is a friendly, though not loving, authority from whom he can 
obtain very little real affection. His relation to his brother Ralph is not so satis- 
fying as Mickey would like, for Ralph is quite inconsistent in his behavior. He 
appears to like Mickey, yet at times he becomes quite quarrelsome and domineer- 
ing. It is possible, although the evidence is scanty, that some of this difficulty arises 
from Ralph's jealousy over Mickey's greater popularity with all their relatives. 

In his contacts outside the home Mickey is universally liked. Quick and anxious 
to learn, vivacious and friendly with his classmates and teachers, Mickey is a 
popular and accepted leader. His spontaneous and somewhat uncritical acceptance 
of anyone who will be friendly keep him busy in all that goes on around him. 
That he sometimes gets into fights is not surprising in a boy of his exuberance. 
As was noted in his family relations, Mickey has no real emotional ties to his 
age mates. Among his relatives and his friends there is no one person with whom 
he feels genuinely secure and loved. This does not imply that he feels any rejection 
by others or hostility toward them for he does not. He shows no anxiety, and it 
may be that he is too much of an introvert to attract intense affection. 

Mickey is a white boy in appearance, attitudes, and behavior. He already appears 


to regard himself as different from, and even a little superior to, the Indians. This 
orientation is not surprising when one looks at his family with their white father 
and their white values and behavior. Their closest relationships in the community 
are with families of similar composition and standards. Mickey's older brothers 
and sisters have already moved out of the community, and his family has not made 
a close integration with the more Indian households. It is probable that Mickey 
will finish his high-school work and then follow his brother and sisters into the 
white world outside the reservation. He seems sure to adjust satisfactorily to this 
world, for his inner poise, his responsiveness, and his friendly, smiling appearance 
make him particularly popular among his white friends and teachers. 

In summary, Mickey is a lively and genial boy, happy and successful in his 
personal contacts. He has excellent intellectual capacities and sufficient inner se- 
curity to adjust quickly to a strange environment. The combination of his inner 
resources and his social adjustment have given him a well-rounded personality. 
He may, however, find trouble if at some time he feels the need for a deep emo- 
tional tie to one person. 


Priscilla is a thin, frail girl of eleven with a dark skin and a sober countenance. 
She has nine-sixteenths Indian blood. Her birth was normal and her first year of 
life a healthy one. About the time of her second birthday she began to have 
convulsions, which appeared occasionally until she was seven. These "spells," as 
the family called them, frightened and bewildered them. Noticing that when she 
was made to cry she frequently went into a convulsive state, they treated her with 
utmost caution and have continued to do so, even though this sickness seems 
definitely over. 

Priscilla lives with her father and mother and fourteen-year-old sister, Delia, 
and sixteen-year-old brother, Don. She also has two older sisters who live and 
work off the reservation. The family home is a log cabin about a half-mile from 
the village. In their social position the Judsons belong with the mixed-blood and 
white families of the village neighborhood, although their nearest neighbors are 
full-bloods, with whom they are very friendly. 

The Judsons follow an almost white pattern of life, but their relations to less- 
assimilated Indians are strengthened by the fact that the father is three-quarters 
Indian, descended from several generations of mixed-blood forebears. Through his 
mixed-blood background and his education, Bill Judson has more training in and 
acceptance of white ways than the majority of his blood group. Although he 
speaks Siouan, he has not taught it to his children. He is a lean, tight-lipped man 
who keeps very much to himself. He treats Priscilla kindly but distantly and has 


never spanked her. The mother is the controlling person in the family, whom 
Priscilla accepts as the real authority. She has only three-eighths Indian blood. 

On the surface the family appears to be enjoying a pleasant and placid ex- 
istence. The father and mother are, however, quite restraining and apprehensive 
in the two youngest girls' outside activities. Priscilla's play has been hampered by 
her sickness and the great apprehension that her parents have always felt about 
her being away from the house and participating in vigorous activity. They have 
forbidden her and her sister to ride for fear of being hurt or to swim for fear of 
contagion from the water in the creek. 

The set of this parental discipline appears to have come from Priscilla's 
paternal grandmother. She assisted at Priscilla's birth and, until. she died three 
years later, directed the care of the baby. She made a favored child of Priscilla 
because she was the youngest and sickly. Although this grandmother was of only 
about one-half Indian blood, she followed the Indian pattern in forbidding that 
Priscilla be punished physically and in disciplining her by employing the tradi- 
tional child-frighteners. From the grandmother, Priscilla's father and mother 
learned to indulge their daughter for fear of harming her, but they also wish to 
restrain her from moving away from their protection. This has been very 
confusing to the child. 

Priscilla has very little association with her brother Don, who rides every day 
he can with full-blood friends and visits constantly in their homes. He leans to 
more Indian behavior and attitudes than any member of the family. 

Priscilla is on friendly terms with her older sister Delia, who has been her play- 
mate, but the attachment does not seem to be deep. This is also true with her 
age mates. Delia has been made to give way to her sister because of her frailness. 
Although Delia is very considerate, she resents somewhat the demand that she 
make sacrifices to Priscilla. The youngest of Priscilla's two adult sisters, Eliza- 
beth, nine years her senior, helped to take care of her when she was a baby and is 
now deeply interested in her development. To this sister j who now lives in another 
town, Priscilla has formed a closer attachment than to anyone else in her family. 
She respects Elizabeth's authority and yet competes with her in a joking way. 
Elizabeth plans to have Priscilla live with her when she finishes grade school, so 
that she can attend a city high school. Adjustment to the full-blood group is 
difficult for Elizabeth, and she has refused work on the reservation because of the 
problems of social obligations that it involves. Adjustment to the full-blood group 
is becoming a problem to Priscilla also. Recently she inquired of her mother why 
the Indian children at school called her "Wa&cu" -"white gjj"fR$<W 

Priscilla is a very intelligent girl, and the limitations placed upon her by illness 
have led her to develop intellectual, rather than athletic, pastimes. She is one of 
the few children of her school who make reading their major recreation. Her 


teacher reports that she is a thorough and ambitious student. She is, in fact, 
moving through grade school faster than any of her classmates. She is looked 
upon as a "smarty" by the other children, who regard such behavior as an attempt 
to win the teacher's favor and to identify one's self with whites. This unpopularity 
shows up in the school games, in which Priscilla is rarely chosen to play. 

She does not play with boys. Although her boy cousins are constantly in her 
home and she in theirs, she thinks that they are mean. She is seldom seen about 
the village except in the company of her mother or sister and girl cousin for a 
quick shopping tour. She is more likely to remain in the village home of a friend 
of her mother's than to play or talk with the girls around the store and school. 

Priscilla's tests show that she has a very superior intelligence (I.Q. 137 on the 
Arthur test) and is generally quick in her mental approach, with an excellent 
grasp of ideas and their interrelations. 8 She, no doubt, enjoys this intellectual 
superiority, for she is making her best adjustment in her intellectual and imagi- 
native We. Her efficiency is somewhat lowered by an overdeveloped habit of day- 
dreaming. She is an impressionable and somewhat immature girl, sensitive to the 
outer world. She withholds herself from social contacts, which suggests some 
insecurity. At home this insecurity tends to become confusion over her relation- 
ships with parents and adult brothers and sisters. She does not wish to abandon 
the protection and petting that she is used to, yet she would like to assert her inde- 
pendence and be more mature. 

The poor relationships she is making with her age mates also hinder her social 
maturity. She understands what these relationships should be and how to be 
direct and definite without undue aggression; but, being unable to "give herself," 
she remains passive. The fact that she is a spoiled child who expects much and 
gives little in return may also contribute to her superficial relationships with her 
age group. She is meeting this problem, which causes her considerable anxiety, 
by escaping into daydreams. This is a very inadequate adjustment, for in her 
fantasy she tends to turn toward self-centered heroics or to infantile behavior. 
Her problem appears to lie in her inability to find security with which she could 
overcome flights into daydreaming and her wariness and timidity with others. 


Andre is a handsome ten-year-old boy of three-eighths Indian blood who attends 
the fourth grade of the local day school. He lives with his three sisters, his father, 
and his mother in an outlying town of a predominantly white and mixed-blood 
population. An older sister is a nurse in a hospital on another reservation. The 
family have an attractive, small frame house. The parents are both employed, 
attend church regularly with their children, and are looked upon as good citizens 
in the community. 


The father, whom Andre resembles, is a mixed-blood in appearance. He is 
kindly and interested in his children. Although he occasionally takes authority 
over them into his own hands, he usually leaves their discipline to his wife. His 
children say that he has never spanked them. 

The mother shows none of her Indian blood in her features. Her father is a 
white man who lives in the same town. Her sister is also white in appearance and 
has married a white man. Andre's mother is the dominating and forceful member 
of the family. She is anxious to have her children become educated and get jobs 
that will take them further into white society. She wishes to be considered white 
herself and is a little disturbed by the fact that all her children are dark. She con- 
forms to the behavior standards and ardently upholds the values of whites in 
the lower salary brackets. Although she likes to have her children play with 
whites, she also restrains them from associating with children of white parents 
who are financially better off and stand higher in the local official and social 

Andre's two older sisters go to the Indian boarding school, but their mother 
plans to send them to a white high school and then to a hospital to train as 
nurses like the oldest daughter. Andre seems to be on very pleasant terms with 
these two sisters. The older looked after him and took him to school when he 
was little. 

Andre was weaned by his mother at the end of his first year. He had some 
difficulty with his toilet training, and, as his mother reported, "It seemed as if he 
were going to wet his pants until he was twenty-one. I was so disgusted I just 
shook him." The mother looked upon her son with some curiosity and a little 
apprehension, for she had had no brothers, and Andre was the first boy in her or 
her sister's family. She expected that a boy would be "naturally mischievous and 
misbehaved." When at the age of six he complained of feeling faint and having 
pains, she put it down to a boyish prank. However, he became seriously ill and 
had to remain out of school for a year. Later he was allowed to attend irregularly 
but forbidden to play actively. 

Andre's mother trains him by talking to him about his responsibilities and the 
right and wrong things to do. As punishment, she takes away the privilege of 
going to the movies or withholds his spending money. When he was a small 
boy, she also spanked him. 

Neither Andre nor his sisters cause their parents any serious discipline prob- 
lems, although both of the parents are away from the home all day. The mother 
does not, however, neglect the little attentions which make children happy. She 
always has a cake and presents and occasionally a party for them on their birth- 

Andre looks upon his mother as the boss of the family, even asking her per- 


mission to go hunting with his father. This, he says, he learned from his good 
friend, the minister, who is always preaching that women should care for and 
run their families. Andre, who always attended church with his parents as a 
little boy, now goes to Sunday school and in summer attends a Bible school. 

Andre plays with both white and Indian boys in the community. Although 
there is not much opportunity for it in his neighborhood, he likes to ride horses. 
His teachers report him to be very popular among his classmates, although a year 
ago he was rather sullen. 

Andre does very good school work, except in arithmetic. He is not interested in 
carpentry like his father but spends all his leisure time in drawing. His work 
is good enough to warrant special instruction. He is not sure that he wants to be 
an artist and has expressed a desire to become a doctor. His mother discourages 
this ambition, saying that it is too costly for the parents and implying that it is 
too much above the family status. 

Andre's intelligence tests gives him an average score: 96 by the Arthur and 113 
by the Goodenough. However, his projective tests suggest that his intelligence is 
better than average, that he has excellent intellectual concepts which he arrives 
at by seeing the obvious and commonplace and enlarging upon these with a good 
use of his imagination. He has a power of creativity and a freedom and rhythm 
which are excellent bases for his artistic interests. His system of control is a some- 
what refined intellectual one, with minimum use of either emotional or inner 
integrative functions. There is not the suppression, however, that characterizes 
Priscilla and a large proportion of Dakota children. 

In his behavioral approach, Andre is realistic and able to get along fairly well 
with both age mates and adults. He does show a little insecurity, which appears 
to stem partly from his earlier separation from other children, necessitated by 
sickness, and partly from the predominance of women around him. But this 
insecurity has not affected his adjustment deeply. Ajidre has made a good adjust- 
ment to his father and mother. He respects his mother as a competent woman and 
admires his father. 

In spite of the insecurity which limits his relations to the outside world, his 
expression of spontaneity, and the best use of his intellect, Andre has a well- 
developed personality and an imagination and balance exceptional among Dako- 
ta children. He is both pleasing and interesting to others. He has a good grasp of 
reality. He has no real problems of adjustment other than the slight feeling of 
helplessness derived from his period of sickness. 


Carmelita is a sixteen-year-old girl of three-eighths Sioux blood. She also has 
French and a little Canadian Indian blood from her father, Although her com- 
plexion is dark, she looks more French than Indian. 


Until Carmelita attended boarding school, she lived at home and went to a day 
school in the rural area o trie reservation. Her family live in a community of 
mixed-blood families, who are closely interrelated. They are successful cattle 
operators, running their herds individually. In social matters, however, they are 
a very co-operative and closely knit social group. Carmelita's father has an allot- 
ment in this community. He was very prosperous during World War I but shortly 
afterward lost all his holdings through a sudden misfortune and became im- 
poverished. The family were forced to move to another community where the 
father could get a small job. They struggled for many years and have finally 
built up a good home and cattle herd in the community where they now live. 

The father, troubled by extremely poor eyesight, is helped in his work by a son 
about twenty years old. The mother, an energetic and very able woman, runs the 
family. She is one of the most capable housewives in her district and is active in 
the women's club and community social affairs. Jeanne, her oldest daughter, who 
lives with her husband, of one-thirty-second Indian blood, on a near-by ranch, is 
also an energetic and capable woman. When Carmelita was a little girl Jeanne 
took care of her. Carmelita also has three brothers who have left the reservation to 
complete their education and obtain employment. Altogether, the family presents 
a picture of a stable and industrious group, working hard for what it has in 
material wealth, and ambitious for the young people to move ahead and succeed, 
whether off the reservation or at home. They are strong Catholics through fore- 
bears on both sides of the family and attend the little chapel in their community. 
Their behavior, morality, and general outlook are those of the more stable whites 
who farm and run cattle on the reservation. However, the family, as mixed- 
bloods and of French-Canadian origin, do not feel closely allied with the white 
residents. When they associate outside their relationship group, it is as leaders 
among the Indians and to some extent with the school employees. 

Carmelita was liorn about the time of her father's loss of his cattle herd and 
land. Her mother almost died in childbirth. However, she was soon able to nurse 
her baby. The child weighed only four and one-half pounds at birth and remained 
weak during all her childhood. She was undernourished and developed jaundice 
and rickets which left her frail. The parents were in such straits that they could 
not provide sufficient food for any of the children. One boy developed tuberculosis. 
Carmelita showed a positive reaction to tuberculosis but recovered at home. The 
two oldest children had to leave school to help their father work the garden and 
cut fence posts for sale. During this period, Carmelita could not attend school 
regularly and afterward was forced to remain out 'for a year. 

She has worked hard in school, and, although she receives only passing marks, 
she is well liked by her teachers for her energy. She is co-operative and interested 


in learning so that she may later go on to college and study to be a home economics 
teacher. At school she has captained teams, and in the student council she has 
become a leader. In her general relations with her age mates, Carmelita appears 
as manager of their activities but remains popular with them all, whether Indian 
or white. She states that she likes both Indians and whites but feels that the 
latter treat her better. Alhough she is sixteen, she was not observed to have a boy 
friend at school. 

On the Arthur test, Carmelita received a rating of low average. She apparently 
recognizes her limitations in this direction and covers up her confusion when 
confronted by problems she cannot handle by avoiding specific replies or de- 
cisions. Her creativity and imagination are in keeping with her mental endow- 
ments. She does not give evidence of much fantasy life, nor does she attempt to 
escape from situations by daydreaming. She accepts the impulses from her inner 
life but places a strong conscious control on them in adjusting to the world around 
her. She is sensitive to the reactions of others toward her, but she does not feel 
much emotional drive toward relationships with them. It may be that the long 
period of sickness and deprivation in her early childhood gave her the feeling 
that the outer world is unreliable and untrustworthy, which adds to the insecurity 
which she feels from her limited intellectual capacity. 

This construction of her personality does not seem at first glance to be in 
keeping with her observed behavior at home and at school. When her activities 
are examined closely, however, it can be seen that she is really behaving in accord- 
ance with her sense of insecurity and her limitations. Aware that she is handi- 
capped in academic work, she puts all her energies into social activities. For 
this she has learned a routine of behavior, after the pattern of her mother, which 
gives the appearance of spontaneity and leadership and which wins her praise 
from family and teachers without straining her beyond her capacities. She man- 
ages her schoolmates as the deputy of the teacher and thus has a role of some 
importance among them which does not require originality on her part and affords 
a sort of friendly but impersonal relationship with them that satisfies her needs. 
This type of behavior in a Sioux, and especially a Sioux girl, is unusual enough 
to merit attention and praise from the teachers, which would compensate to a 
large extent for her lack of skill in intellectual realms. 

Rather than being a genuine leader, she is a conformer, but it so happens that 
the pattern to which she conforms is one of leadership as seen in her family. She 
is still very dependent upon the protection of her mother, and to maintain it she 
adheres to her mother's conventional standards as well as her pattern of managing 
those about her. Such behavior on the part of a girl does not sit well with the 
boys, and her relationships with them may in time cause her difficulty. 


In summary, it appears that Carmelita has found a way of getting along in the 
world that is acceptable to the society in which she is likely to remain. It em- 
phasizes her assets and minimizes her liabilities, and it will continue to afford 
her a considerable measure of satisfaction and security unless she is pushed beyond 
the limits of her emotional and intellectual capacities. 

The reader has now made some acquaintance with ten Dakota children. They 
were selected not to portray either typical examples of extremes of range of 
Dakota children's personality types but only to present random cases from each 
of the age, blood, and community groups of the 166 children studied. It will be 
noted that the intelligence quotients range from superior to low average, per- 
sonality development runs from stable to unbalanced, and social adjustments 
appear satisfactory for some full-bloods and near-whites like the Running Elks 
and Dubois children but poor for most of the others. Andre shows that children 
in families accepting the ways and objectives of white life can develop healthy 
personalities. Mickey, although in a less congenial white-patterned family, is also 
developing satisfactorily. Carmelita has gone through many of the more dramatic 
experiences that are shaping the personalities of Pine Ridge children, but her case 
demonstrates that biological factors can have the determining influence in per- 
sonality development. Winona and Robert, although restrained, are Sioux chil- 
dren who have developed without undue feelings of insecurity. 

Red Bird, Charlie, Melville, Priscilla, and Ginny, however, are children who 
feel that they must move with uncertainty and restraint both within and outside 
their family life. These five children reveal elements in their personality develop- 
ment which are characteristic of many of their generation. They have to one 
degree or another a sensitivity to disturbances with which they feel powerless to 
cope. They appear overserious. The bright spontaneity ancl energy usually 
associated with children are missing. They have experienced serious sicknesses or 
known them in their families. Death of a brother or sister is not infrequent. They 
have felt poverty and the anxiety of having no food in the house and no prospect 
of obtaining any. Most of their homes are crowded. These things have brought 
continual worry. 

Most of the parents treat their children with much consideration and kindness. 
Except for the Duboises, who practice definite discipline of their children, parents 
tolerate more freedom of action and respond to more demands of their children 
than most whites allow. In spite of this broad tolerance received from their par- 
ents, the children do not appear to have close rapport or full faith in them. There 
is doubt and bewilderment. Many of the fathers and mothers appear too uneasy 
and harried to give their children real affection. 


These characteristics of their lives and personalities will serve for the reader 
as clues and personal illustrations of the qualities of the group personality of 
Sioux chidren which is described in the next two chapters. 


1. It must be pointed out that undernutrition is probably contributing to this apathy. There is 
evidence of undernutrition among the children tested, and it can fairly be assumed that it exists 
among persons of all ages. The very low family income and the small amount of food produced at 
home for the last twenty years support this assumption. See chaps, xiii and xv for further discussion 
of this point. 

2. For definition of "aggression" as used in this study see Appendix II. 

3. See chap. viii. 

4. As noted in Appendix II, this is a form of aggression. Because the purposes of the aggression 
shown by Dakota in the old society differ from those of the aggression they show today, the term 
is qualified when used in this monograph. The form approved by the old culture is termed "self- 
assertion" or "striving aggression"; the destructive behavior of today is called "hostility" or "hostile 

5. Erik Homburger Erikson, "Observations on Sioux Education," Journal of Psychology, YE 
(1939), 145. 

6. This is not a unique response among the sample group of Dakota children. 

7. Winona was the only one of these ten children to laugh at things she saw in the Rorschach 

8. Priscilla did not take the Goodenough Test. 


HAVING glimpsed briefly the personalities of ten Pine Ridge children, we 
turn now to the personality structure of Dakota children as a group, as 
shown by the results o the various tests and examinations given to the 
sample of 166. In the present chapter we seek to give the general personality 
characteristics of the group, as revealed by intelligence tests and physical exam- 
inations, together with what can be learned of their emotional life and moral code 
in the Emotional Response and Moral Ideology tests. 1 The following chapter 
shows something of what lies beneath the surface of overt behavior, as disclosed 
by the projective tests. 

It should be noted that the material from these tests gives us a picture of the 
personality configuration of a group of Dakota children. It is not the personality 
of one child or the personalities of a majority of the children. It could not be said 
to exist in all its elements in any one child, let alone in a majority. The "Dakota 
personality," as the term is employed here, means the type which evolves from 
the sum total of the characteristic responses of our test material. 

What is meant by personality, and how does it develop ? 

Personality, as conceived in this study, devclops^from the im pulses,. dsJYeSa and 
motives of the individual; the expression which the individual gives to these 
impuls57an3lhe control and restraint which he exercises over them; the controls 
imposed by his culture and the channels it offers to the individual drives; and the 
opportunities, impacts, and conflicts which the environment sets up. In other 
words, there are forces within and forces outside the individual which are acting 
upon him. The way in which he integrates and expresses these forces and resolves 
conflicts between them, and the way in which the conflicts become ramified into 
forms of behavior, produce the various qualities and habits which together make 
up his personality. 

In every individual's personality are factors arising from biological endow- 
ment, from cultural conditioning in education, and from individual psychological 
variations. It is now generally believed that the Indian child is not fundamentally 
different in his biological makeup from any other child. Owing to his particular 
biological inheritance and suEsequent physiological history, each child, be he 



Indian, Mexican, Negro, or white American, does vary from every other child 
in his particular biological organization; but these are normal variations and not 
differences due to racial inequality or deficiency. 

Every child goes through the same developmental stages of babyhood, child- 
hood, and adolescence before reaching adulthood. At each stage of his develop- 
ment, the child has basic needs and goals, such as learning to walk and talk or 
expressing his sexual drive, which appear at different stages of physical matura- 
tion. These needs and goals and developmental stages are biologically determined, 
but each culture makes different uses oLthem or imposes different types of 
training at different times. For this reason we may find Indian children doing 
different things or behaving differently from children of the same age in other 

Each cultural organization sets up demands and goals which the child must 
meet if he is to be an acceptable member. The culture may demand that he go to 
school, be educated in certain concepts and skills, and later become a laborer, a 
hunter, a priest, etc., and that he do these things at- certain times. Each culture 
offers opportunities for human expression and satisfaction through socially 
defined routes and procedures. Each culture, through its organization, cares for 
and trains the young members of the group in its own techniques for obtaining 
food and clothing, marrying, burying the dead, co-operating in groups, and 
worshiping or calling upon the aid of the supernatural. These are needs which 
individuals either have as human beings or learn because of the culture in which 
they live. 

Culture, through its social processes, suppresses some types of behavior and 
some impulses and permits the full expression of others. In this way, individuals 
are trained to carry out the objectives of the culture. For example, little Dakota 
boys were encouraged to express their self-assertion or aggressive tendencies in 
order that they might develop and exercise the attitudes needed for hunting and 
fighting. For the most part, in white American culture this plundering type of 
aggression is suppressed, but aggressive impulses are allowed expression through 
accepted forms of competing in games or accumulating and displaying posses- 

When a culture no longer provides the necessary outlets and satisfactions for 
human needs, and new conditions arising from its disorganization interfere with 
the achievement of previously established and still desired goals, the individual 
members react in many ways which we term "maladjustment." They may fight 
for old goals or satisfactions; they may acquiesce, withdraw, or run away from 
the new situation. On the other hand, they may make new adjustments by re- 
1 directing their energies to new goals. These adjustments are compensations which 
permit the individual to continue as a well-organized personality. 


The specific reaction which each individual makes to his culture, or to the dis- 
organization of his culture, differs. Again the individual inheritance factors in 
his makeup account for some of his behavioral characteristics. The conditions of 
his home, the status of his family, the organization of his community, and the 
physical resources by which it lives are also contributory factors to individual 

But the psychological basis on which any one individual reacts to external 
conditions is the same as for every other individual. In other words, all individ- 
uals operate on the same psychological principles and have the same physiological 
and biological mechanisms for experiencing anxieties, fear, love, and other emo- 
tions. However, the kinds of emotional reaction and behavior which each in- 
dividual exhibits differ with different constitutional factors or sets of social or 
cultural stimuli or conditions. The fact that all individuals function psycholog- 
ically according to the same principles is one of the most important premises to 
remember about other racial and cultural groups. 

This means that persons coming to Pine Ridge from another culture will find 
Dakota children behaving differently from the other children they have known 
because of traditional Dakota training and because of the effects of cultural 
change. But the psychological processes by which Dakota children have developed 
their behavior are the same as those of other children. 

The type of behavior now exhibited by the majority of Pine Ridge children 
must be regarded primarily as the result of psychological-reactions, to disorganized 
cultural conditions. The behavior is only symptomatic and not the basic problem. 

Not all aspects of personality and their interrelations have been studied or be- 
come thoroughly understood by students of personality. For example, the exact 
nature and sources of drives, sometimes called "impulses" or "instincts," are not 
known, but the behavior based upon them can be observed. It is not completely 
known whether some personality traits have an inherited biological or physiolog- 
ical basis or are acquired through experience. 

In this study no bold attempt to describe exhaustively the total personality or its 
structure is contemplated. This study attempts only to discover the major aspects 
of personality by means of tests and observations, in the same way as the medical 
student starts to study the human body and its functions. The essential aspects 
of personality studied here include: intelligence, imaginative faculties, inner ad- 
justment of drives, controls, basic emotional attitudes, emotional reaction to sur- 
roundings, adequacy of sexual adjustment, and the approach and relationship to 
families and the social world. 


Two tests were used to determine the intelligence of 166 Dakota children: the 
Grace Arthur Point Performance Scale and the Goodenough Draw-a-Man Test. 


In the Arthur test, on which the average I.Q. for white children is 100, the children 
of Pine Ridge town aged six to fifteen had an average I.Q. of 102.6, and the Kyle 
children of the same ages had an average I.Q. of 101.1. In the Goodenough Draw- 
a-Man Test the average I.Q.'s were 102 for Pine Ridge and 113.6 for Kyle. 2 Each 
group displayed the expected range from subnormal to superior intelligence. 

These tests are designed to score intelligence through manual performance 
rather than through skill in writing English and using arithmetic and other school 
subjects. A test where responses must be made in English would be a marked 
handicap to children with as little English as some of the younger Dakota. That 
the inadequacy of their knowledge and use of English is indeed a handicap in 
tests, even among older children, is shown by the scores of the Oglala Community 
High School students in the Kuhlmann-Anderson Test, parts of which are writ- 
ten. In this test, 30 of the 166 children made an average score of 82.3, as compared 
with their score of 102.8 on the Arthur test. 

Several points of interest may be noted from variations within the Pine Ridge 
and Kyle groups and differences between the two groups. In the Arthur test there 
were no significant differences between boys and girls or between the community 
groups. On the Goodenough test, however, the boys in both groups scored signif- 
icantly higher than the girls. In contrast, the girls in a group of white school 
children in a midwestern town scored higher than the boys. 3 It is also not without 
interest that the Kyle children, who are farther removed from white contacts, 
had considerably higher scores than the Pine Ridge children at the Agency town. 

From time to time various persons have doubted the intellectual abilities of 
Indians and have ascribed to mental deficiency the difficulties which many Indian 
children experience in school. The I.Q.'s scored by all Indians- in tests given as 
part of the Indian Education Research Project prove that this is far from the 
truth. Hopi children, for instance, had a remarkably higher average score than 
the white children on whom the tests were standardized. 4 The Dakota children 
scored above average, one community group significantly above average in one 
test. Indeed, nine of eleven groups of Indian children tested in six tribes had 
average I.Q.'s either above the white average or so little below it as to have no 
statistical significance. 5 


Nearly all the 166 Dakota children tested were examined by physicians to deter- 
mine the state of their health. Only one in five was rated as having generally 
good health, and 40 per cent were classified as being undernourished, as deter- 
mined by comparing each child's height and weight with the average for his 
tribal age group. Vitamin deficiency was not noted specifically, but swollen gums, 
flaring ribs, and enlarged sore tongues probably represent this lack. Evidence of 
tuberculosis, so often found in poorly nourished children, was noted in about 15 


per cent of the Dakota children, but X-ray showed that calcification had devel- 
oped in most of the cases. Active tuberculosis was very rare. The incidence of the 
disease varied greatly between communities, but no conclusions regarding its 
prevalence can be drawn, as X-rays were not taken of all children. About half the 
children had decayed teeth, and the same proportion had enlarged tonsils. There 
was no very significant difference between the health of boys and of girls. More 
girls than boys were classified as having good health, but more of the girls were 
thought to be undernourished. The health of the older children was better than 
that of the very young ones. In general, it might be judged that. the health status 
of Dakota children is similar to that of underprivileged whites in rural areas, but 
no data are available for more exact comparison. 

Probably the most significant data from these examinations are those relating 
to undernutrition, four out of every ten children appearing to be undernourished. 7 
It is regrettable that circumstances did not allow the undertaking of a diet study 
among the Dakota similar to those previously made among the Hopi and the 
Papago. 8 Such information as was gathered on Pine Ridge shows that average 
meals of the children are insufficient in caloric and vitamin content. The home 
breakfast menus for several days reported by a grade-school class in home eco- 
nomics show that no child had milk or fruit and only one had an egg. The typical 
breakfast included cake purchased at the trader's, fried bread or potatoes or pan- 
cakes and syrup, and coffee. A few children had no breakfast before coming to 
school. During the winter season children have very few green vegetables at 
home. Families who received rations (and formerly surplus commodities) were 
given an assortment of food inadequate in vitamins. 9 

It was impossible to compare the day-school children, who eat one meal five 
days a week at school, with the boarding-school children, who eat at school about 
nine months of the year, because individuals shift from one status to another so 
frequently. Boarding-school teachers report, however, that their students lose so 
much weight during the summer vacation that they do not recover it at school 
until about Christmas, 

The general poor health and undernutrition among the children may affect 
their personalities, chronic hunger being reflected in temper and behavior. It is, 
therefore, ffdT^tirprTsing to find apathy and some irritability among the Pine 
Ridge children, as is common among underfed white school children. These 
characteristics among the Dakota children are not, however, solely attributable to 
health factors. 


Passing from the child's intelligence and the factors in his health which may 
influence intelligence and action, we now seek to determine how children behave 


toward others and how they feel about their behavior. The Emotional Response 
and Moral Ideology tests present material from which characteristics of the be- 
havior of the children can be ascertained, the emotions surrounding it, and the 
kinds of relations the child has with the world about him. 

In the Emotional Response Test, children are asked to recall occasions when 
they felt happy, sad, afraid, angry, or ashamed and to say what are the best and 
worst things that could happen to them. They also tell voluntarily how they 
behaved on these occasions, and what persons were concerned. 

This test employs -direct questioning, but the material utilized is offered volun- 
tarily. The child selects actual experiences on those occasions which he recalls 
because of their emotional impress. Hence, this material presents private experi- 
ences not usually obtainable through interviewing methods. For example, a boy 
states that he was angry when his little sister threw his marbles into the stove. 
The boy's account of this incident and his reaction to it indicate one type of rela- 
tionship between brothers and sisters. From the total responses of the boys con- 
cerning their relations with their sisters, we have evidence concerning the kinds 
of behavior between brothers and sisters from the boys' point pf view. Similarly, 
the total responses of the girls concerning brother relationships present data on 
the brother-sister relationships from the girls' point of view. Organizing this 
material on the basis of action and response, we can obtain evidence that sub- 
stantiates and adds to observations of the children's overt behavior. 

The Moral Ideology Test seeks to elicit information on what the child thinks 
are "good things" and "bad things" to do. He is also asked what persons will 
praise or blame him for doing these good or bad things. The results of this test 
show an "official" ideology, or what the child has been taught to believe is right 
and wrong and what the child believes the group thinks. However, in analyzing 
this material, we find that the child usually recalls some personal experience or 
behavior about which he feels he acted in an approved or disapproved way. For 
example, the frequent mention of stealing as a bad thing to do indicates that 
stealing is probably either one of the worst or one of the most common "sins" 
among the contemporary Dakota. However, it is not considered equally bad by 
boys and girls or by different age groups. We can infer from this that some chil- 
dren steal and are punished for it; it therefore is a matter of great concern to 
them. Other children have less association or concern with it. Thus, by analyzing 
the behavior reported in the "good and bad things to do" which the children 
mention, we obtain additional data for our description of the interaction that 
takes place between the children and others in their society. 

When the Emotional Response data are classified into responses about happi- 
ness, sadness, etc., a general pattern of children's emotions appears. First, the 
children are concerned about the behavior of others toward them; and, second, 


they are very anxious about themselves. The data can then be reclassified on the 
basis of action initiated by ^others^'action initiated by self, and no personal inter- 
action, 10 to ascertain the direction and nature of behavior, with whom the activity 
. is carried on, whether it is on a friendly or hostile basis, and how the children 
feel about it. The Moral Ideology Test responses can be classified on the basis of 
the children's concepts of good and bad behavior and on the basis of individuals 
or groups who praised or blamed them in such behavior. This test, too, shows 
kinds of behavior and how the children feel about them in terms of approval and 
disapproval or satisfaction and anxiety. The data from both tests have been 
combined to present the behavior of the children in their social groups, the rela- 
tionships with parents, brothers and sisters, and age groups, and the emotional 
reaction which the children have in these relationships. 

The largest number of responses from the Emotional Response and Moral 
Ideology tests suggest that the predominant behavior and emotions of the children 
are reactions to a world that seems to them hostile a world that is threatening 
and bearing down upon them, causing them great concern about themselves, and 
restraining them in their interests and associations with other people. In the social 
relationships of the children, most action is, or seems to them to be, initiated by 
others. People are openly aggressive or unfriendly or threaten to become so. The 
children report many experiences of physical aggression, such as fights, "ganging 
up," and having toys and property destroyed. They feel that people are also 
constantly being inconsiderate of them. Disappointments and unfulfilled prom- 
ises are evident. Restrictions, discipline, and punishment also contribute to the 
children's feelings that other people suppress or threaten them, but the disci- 
plining restraints are only minor compared with the thoughtless inconsiderate- 
ness and antagonisms. Restraint and discipline are part of the process of growing 
up and learning to adjust to society. However, it is not formal discipline by parents 
and teachers that really concerns the Dakota child. His sadness, fear, anger, and 
shame come more from acts of aggression and failures to be kind on the part of 
other children. 

People are not the only menacing beings in the children's world. Animals-, 
which are so abundant in their environment, are also frightening and hostile. It is 
not surprising that, in a country of rattlesnakes, untrained and abused dogs, and 
occasionally vicious bulls, the children should experience terrifying encounters. 
It is surprising, however, to find that horses, which give them so much pleasure 
and are so much a part of their daily life, also cause Dakota children much fear 
and anger. Danger from actual experiences with animals and general anxiety 
about them stimulated half the fear responses of the boys and girls, and the per- 
versity and uncontrollable behavior of animals were the source of the majority of 
anger responses of the boys. The rough treatment which is meted out to animals 


doubtless accounts for much of their unmanageability. This treatment may also 
be an expression of anger and hostility which the Dakota feel against other peo- 
ple but are afraid to show openly. 

_ For a group of children removed by only a few generations from a complete 
acceptance of primitive beliefs about the supernatural, it is surprising to find that 
almost none of the dangers of this traditional supernatural world now appear to 
alarm them. The fear of the tchi-tchi man and other child-frighteners is overcome 
as the children grow older, just as the belief in Santa Glaus is outgrown by 
white children. Only a few children mention the traditional child-frighteners and 
the owl, an omen of death. Ghosts and such other supernatural figures as now 
appear to menace them have been taken over from white culture through white 
playmates and through stories and Halloween parties at school The more com- 
mon frightening associations with the supernatural are seeing dead relatives or 
ghosts and skeletons. Night itself is frightening, but this may be interpreted also as 
fear of meeting ghosts or alarming objects and fear of being alone. * 

It should be noted that, although the people and things about them appear 
predominantly hostile to Dakota children, there are also pleasant and satisfying 
relationships originated by others. The visits by relatives for family gatherings, 
the departure and return of family members, and the gifts from brothers and 
sisters and elder relatives very definitely bring pleasure and enjoyment to the 
children. The responses concerning these experiences of^ positive relationships 
reveal, however, that they occur almost exclusively between relatives. It is society 
beyond the family or circle of relatives that children feel to be hostile; it seems to 
dominate their emotional reactions. 

The second largest category of responses from these tests reveals the children 
to be concerned with self-interest in. pleasures j^c anxiety about their own well- 
being. Little or no direct action with other people is stated or is even inferred. The 
primary responses of interest are in good times, such as going to the movies, to 
fairs, and to rodeos. In these activities the children can be with many people and 
identify themselves with the group in watching some entertainment but avoid 
intimate personal contacts. The children also enjoy parties like those at Christmas 
or on birthdays, when they receive gifts. The tests show that the gifts are more 
important to them than actual participation in such festivities or even being the 
center of attention. In studying responses by age groups, it appears that it is 
almost exclusively the youngest children who enjoy the personal relationships at 
these occasions. 

Games are another source of pleasure. This might seem to imply a great deal of 
interaction with playmates. However, the kinds of play which the children name 
riding horseback, throwing a rope, trying to catch horses and cattle, and playing 
with dolls indicate a considerable amount of solitary play or play with others 


in which interest is not centered on co-operation or competition or acting upon 
one another but on some nonhuman object. For this reason play has been classi- 
fied with the responses of "no personal interaction." This classification must be 
qualified strongly, since basketball, baseball, and the group games taught in 
primary school are also mentioned by the children. It must be remembered, how- 
ever, that this competitive play is taught by the school and is only occasional in 
the informal play in the home communities. 

The children's concern about their personal welfare may be termed negative 
and undesirable from the point of view of good mental hygiene and of society. 
Concern over themselves takes the form primarily of anxiety over being sick, 
injured, or in pain, which causes them both fear and sadness. The children are also 
concerned, but to a much less degree, over dying or death as "the worst thing 
that could happen." 11 

It is not unusual for children to be apprehensive of sickness and painful injuries, 
and there is much in the environment which directs Dakota children's attention 
to sickness and death. The extreme cold and storms of winter may cause these 
children, whose general health and diet are poor, to have more than their share 
of sickness. Data on the incidence of sickness are lacking. Sick children are gen- 
erally not well cared for in a Dakota home until symptoms become alarming, and 
then there is a rush for assistance. Overanxiety about sickness among the children 
is, therefore, to be expected. Death also might be expected to concern them, for a 
great many families have lost one or two small children. The ritual days of 
mourning, the giving-away of property, and the frequently dramatic behavior 
of the bereaved deeply impress the children. 

Self-concern over being sick and dying would not be thought unusual under 
these circumstances if it were not for the additional high anxiety over the death 
of others. Worry about the possible death of other people, as measured by the 
frequency of responses, is exceeded only by that caused by the potential or overt 
aggression of people and by the behavior of animals. Although the children have 
strong affection for their relatives, worry about their death or sickness appears to 
be centered in apprehension about how such catastrophes will affect the children 
themselves. This preoccupation is thrown into bolder relief by the absence of any 
responses showing interest in the happiness or activities of other people. 

In responses reflecting self-initiated relationships with other people, the chil- 
dren show some interest in visiting relatives and attending family gatherings for 
recreational or rituat occasions. Such positive interaction is, however, almost as 
infrequent as the appearance of real interest in the welfare of other people. The 
self -initiated action with others lies almost exclusively in various forms of aggres- 
sion fighting, damaging property, breaking rules, disobedience, disrespect, and 


stealing. This is in the face of an official code in which stealing and openly agres- 
sive acts within one's own society are the two worst forms of behavior. As a result 
they feel very sad and ashamed of what they have done. 

The evaluation of stealing as the foremost "bad thing to do" among the descend- 
ants of a society that praised stealing from the enemy calls for comment. Older 
generations stole from the government as a form of waging war or retaliating 
against their conquerors. It was once an admired act which set a pattern in a 
traditional form for releasing tension. The example of stealing as a means of 
demonstrating hostility is still set by many adults. In a situation where many 
people are very poor and often hungry, it is to be expected that for "have-nots" 
to steal from the "haves" will not be the "worst thing to do." But this behavior 
has been punished so long and so severely that the children are very conscious of 
the wrongness of any theft in the official code. In the personal code, stealing 
within one's own group was and still is "bad" behavior. 

Another major characteristic of the children's behavior manifests itself in their 
failure to make responses in parts of the tests. Many Dakota children withdraw 
from as much overt activity as possible. One indication of this constraint is the 
frequency of refusal or apparent inability to answer all the questions of the tests. 
The second is the high proportion of responses showing anxiety about the hos- 
tility of others; and the third is the very low proportion of responses of self- 
initiated action. The ratio of responses in these three classifications is, respectively, 
9, 5, and 1. The children appear to control active behavior and expression of their 
feelings and to break out into aggressive acts when they can no longer restrain 


The behavior of a child changes as he develops physically and passes from 
early to late childhood and into adolescence and the post-adolescent period. As he 
grows older, he moves into the wider circles of his society beyond his immediate 
family. His behavior changes as he adjusts to, conflicts with, or imitates his fellows 
or elders. Parental training also changes and influences the behavior of the child 
at different ages. It is beyond the scope of this study to describe the behavior 
resulting from changes in physical growth. 12 However, the tests and observations 
do contain material which shows behavior of boys and girls at different ages as 
influenced by family, school, church, and community. 

The responses to the tests show that, by the time the boys are eight or ten, they 
have developed strong ties with their families. The majority of responses about 
happy occasions center in family holiday parties. Presents are a source of great 
pleasure. Toys and other belongings are very important to the boys, and they 
become very disturbed if their possessions are damaged or taken away from them. 


Although they have not reached the age where formal giving is necessary, they 
are already conscious of the need to be thoughtful and kind to others. 

Pets and riding horses are also a source of pleasure to the boys, but experience 
has made them afraid of animals. As they become older and can manage animals 
better, their responses indicate that this fear decreases. They enjoy going to school 
and to fairs and rodeos, and they are willing to work at home; but these activities 
are not yet so important to them as they become later. 

The family is the center of their social universe and is already regarded as the 
one source of security. They are still afraid of being left alone, and at this age 
their concern over the sickness and death of family members is greatest. Little 
boys are also apprehensive about becoming sick and dying. Apparently they are 
already aware of the insecurity of the world about them. They also know that to 
express hostility openly toward others or to steal is bad behavior. 

In the next age group, the years from eleven to thirteen, the boys' responses 
show that they remain less in the home and join groups of playmates and wander 
around the community with greater assurance. They show more vivacity and 
more spontaneity than at any other time in their lives. However, the new relation- 
ships also bring conflict. The boys get into many fights and quarrels, for which 
they later feel sad or ashamed. They also begin to steal, to damage property, and 
to break school rules, and they are ashamed of doing so. These actions reflect in 
part the aggressiveness encouraged in males at home during their earlier years 
but no longer channelized by parental training or granted expression by any social 
institution. It also shows that the boys feels they must fight to get along in hostile 
surroundings. Boys of this age group have strong feelings of insecurity, and they 
show more fear of their social environment than the younger age group. This 
insecurity also appears in increased concern about becoming sick or injured. 

The anxiety which they manifest about the aggressive behavior they desire or 
feel impelled to take seems to stem from the now well-learned attitude that 
thoughtfulness and kindness are the accepted bases of Dakota behavior within 
their own group. This principle, learned at home, does not appear to function 
outside it with consistent success. Generosity is also part of the pattern of thought- 
fulness, yet it is not so strongly instilled that the boys eleven to thirteen years old 
have given up feeling that personal property is of great importance to them. 

The responses in the tests do not reveal any types of sex behavior, for there is 
great restraint about mentioning such matters to outsiders. However, there is evi- 
dence of an awareness of developing sexuality and a jiew_ consciousness about 
relationships with girls. The taboo on sex relations is part of the moral code that 
they hold at this age. 

The adolescent and post-adolescent boys, aged fourteen to eighteen, show in 
their behavior characteristics which were becoming evident in the earlier age 


group. Relationships to other people are now their major concern. They seem 
well indoctrinated with the Sioux code o good behavior, which requires thought- 
fulness, kindness, generosity, and loyalty to family members. Family solidarity 
and security are more important to the adolescents than to the middle age group 
but not so important as to the youngest group. 

The older boys show desire for achievement by getting an education. They 
also want "to be on their own" by getting a job, partly in order to be free of family 
restrictions. Their recreation is less devoted to playing games and takes on the 
more adult characteristic of joining crowds to see the sights at fairs and watch 
rodeos or dances. 

There is a marked decline in the vivacity of this age group from the pre-adoles- 
cent period. The behavior of adolescents reflects an almost sudden withdrawal, 
confusion, and inability to find a satisfactory role. Delinquency is more apparent 
than among the pre-adolescent years. Responses about stealing almost triple as the 
boys pass from the middle to the older age group, and they reveal great anxiety 
about it as wrongdoing. The number of these responses about stealing is an index 
of their delinquent behavior, their lack of opportunity to express aggressive im- 
pulses in socially approved ways, and their reaction against the felt hostility of 
their environment. 

Their behavior with girls of their age does not appear in the test material, but 
they hold sex morality as the least important of their moral concepts. This attitude 
is in keeping with the training of boys and the traditional attitude of Dakota 
males. If a sex code is lightly impressed on their consciences, it may be expected 
that they will feel free to make sexual advances toward the girls of the community. 
In this behavior, too, they can find release for drives that have been blocked in 
other directions. 

As they grow older, the adolescent boys appear to become frightened, unsure of 
themselves, and without the interests that will carry them into a life of activity and 
a career. They may wish to grow up and take their places as men in their society, 
but their behavior and moral concepts show that they are being defeated by the 
impact of the social disorganization of their people. Their tests indicate a feeling 
that reservation authorities, Indian leaders, and even their own communities, 
where people constantly criticize each other, are all against them. In fact, their 
fear of the ill-will and unfriendliness of society at this period of their development 
is higher than ever before. Seeing no niche or role for themselves and a life on the 
reservation that seems empty, they tend to retreat from life. 

The girls follow much the same development as the boys until they reach ado- 
lescence, but they appear to reach the various stages a year or two earlier than 
the boys, as white girls do. 



The youngest group of girls, aged eight to ten, feel that the family serves as a 
great protection to them, as do the boys of the same age group. But the departure 
of a member from the family circle, or the sickness or death of a relative, upsets 
the girls' feelings of security in the family even more than it does the young boys'. 
The girls appear to acquire the pattern of thoughtful and kind behavior and to 
enjoy the social relationships outside the family at an earlier age than the boys. 
Their greater enjoyment of going to school and being among the crowd on holi- 
day occasions reflects both a little more maturity and the confinement imposed 
upon them at home. The little girls do not give as many responses as the boys 
about being afraid of being left alone, probably because they are kept closer to 
their mothers. The youngest girls show better social integration because they 
indicate less concern about themselves and more interest in the welfare of others. 
Girls of this age group become involved in fights and quarrels, but they are 
disturbed about this behavior and the troubles made for them by others. They 
express also some fear of the opposite sex and show that they are already aware of 
their sexual role and the conduct expected of them. Fear of the physical environ- 
ment is also clearly evident from their responses. Even to a greater extent than the 
eight- to ten-year-old boys, 'the girls of this age group are afraid of animals and 
especially snakes. This fear is excessive and may reinforce their general appre- 
hension which develops later. 

Girls of eleven to thirteen continue to expand their relationships with social 
groups outside, the family. School creates an excellent opportunity for this, and 
the pleasure of attending school increases. The family does not decrease in im- 
portance but now imposes stronger restrictions on the girls' behavior, obviously 
because they are approaching or entering adolescence. The consciousness of their 
sexual role dominates the behavior of the girls themselves. They appear more 
afraid of the advances of men and boys and the criticism of the community. 
They are also interested in clothes and personal ornaments. 

Because modesty and restrained behavior are expected of girls, fighting makes 
them feel deeply ashamed. Evidently they try to control such behavior but ex- 
press some of their aggression in stealing. They show both embarrassment and 
anger about such behavior, which indicates that they become participants as well 
as objects of it. 

By the time the girls become adolescent or post-adolescent, their behavior 
changes and in some directions their anxieties increase. They are kept in the home 
and given a strong position there. Interest in the solidarity and security of the 
family is maintained. School assumes a more serious aspect as the girls become 
more interested in getting an education. They continue to have a good time there, 
and they are now also interested in getting a job, although to a lesser degree than 
boys of their age. It is in their relationships and attitudes outside the family and 


formal school life that the girls show the greater change. Life about them appears 
to cause more apprehension and create more social difficulties than at any earlier 
age. They are more afraid to be alone, more afraid of the dark, of ghosts, and of 
what may befall them or their relatives. They are also more anxious now about 
being sick or dying. The type of responses about sickness and also "getting well" 
suggests that some of their concern about sickness is associated with menstruation. 
The older girls appear to have lost some of their anxiety about direct aggression 
from others, especially boys. They are now having boy friends without feelings of 
shame or excessive fear. The rough behavior of boys may arouse their anger 
rather than fear, and they often strike back. But they feel that this conduct is very 
bad, worse than stealing. In fact, "stealing" drops out of their replies to the Emo- 
tional Response Test, although it appears as bad conduct in their Moral Ideology 
Test responses. 


From children's orientation in society it is obvious that the greatest amount of 
interaction will be with members of the family and with the teacher and age 
mates at school. This is apparent in responses of the Emotional Response and 
Moral Ideology tests. From both the types and the frequencies of responses, it 
appears that the children construct society in the following manner. First is the 
family, of mother, brothers and sisters, father, and grandparents. Next in impor- 
tance is the school, made up of playmates and teachers. Great distinction is drawn 
between playmates of the same age and sex and those who are older or younger 
or of opposite sex. The rest of society is usually classed as "everybody" or "some- 

The relationships which the children have with "the family" as a group are 
emotionally colored with happiness or sadness and with little fear, shame, or 
anger. They think of "the family" in terms of good times when they are all to- 
gether, but in terms of sadness when someone leaves, dies, or becomes ill. They 
also regard "the family" as the most active authority, or praiser and blamer, 
indicating that all members of the family criticize or punish and also reward 
them. Examination of the relationship between different members of the family 
show that intimacies, affection, and conflicts vary greatly, and much of this 
depends upon whether the child is a boy or girl. 

Test responses indicate that the happiest family relationship of the boys is with 
their brothers, making it evident that the Dakota pattern of solidarity between 
brothers is continuing. Although boys are also close to their mothers, there is 
some distance between them because of the mother's function as the family disci- 
plinarian and because of the difference in sex. Since the boys are taught to be 


reserved before women, they are likely to feel embarrassed in their mother's 
presence. This embarrassment they feel also before other women, and it is the 
chief reaction to girl age mates and to their teachers, most of whom are women. 
The boys' relationship to their sisters appears to be fundamentally an affectionate 
one, but the responses about their sisters^ are mainly ones of sadness and some 
anger. The boys feel sad when their older sisters punish them or do some unkind 
thing. The boys also feel upset when their sisters leave the family. The shame 
expected to be shown in associations with their sisters, whom they were tradi- 
tionally taught to avoid, does not appear in the responses; this indicates that the 
taboo now rests lightly on the consciences of Dakota boys. 

The interaction between fathers and their sons appears much less intense and 
frequent than between mothers and sons. The boys enjoy a very pleasant relation- 
ship with their fathers but clo not regard them as real authorities. The role of the 
father appears less significant among the Sioux than among the Navaho and 
Hopi 13 or among white children of a midwestern town. It indicates how unim- 
portant the men of the Dakota have become in their families, and how much the 
boys lack in a well-rounded family life and the necessary training for an adequate 
and satisfactory man's role. 

Grandparents appear to have very slight influence in the lives of the boys, for 
they make little mention of grandfathers or grandmothers in either test. 

The girls' relationships with members of their families differ to some extent 
from the relationships of the boys. As may be expected from the girls' greater 
activity in the home, their relationships are closest and deepest with their mothers. 
The girls appear happiest in their family life, and the mother appears to be the 
one person with whom they enjoy predominantly happy relationships. Neverthe- 
less, the'rhotKersaTealsb strong disciplinarians to their daughters. The girl? do not 
appear to enjoy an intimate relationship with their fathers, who exercise little 
authority over them and evoke little respect. In marked contrast to the close ties 
between brothers, the girls show strong conflict with their sisters. Although the 
girls appear to enjoy more pleasant experiences with their brothers than their 
brothers do with them, the girls recall most of their experienceis with their broth- 
ers with sadness. These were times when brothers were sick or died or went 
away from the family. They were also times of quarreling with their brothers. 
As a general mode of behavior, children appear to feel that they wish to get along 
with their siblings of the other sex, and they recall disputes and conflicts with 
feelings of sadness rather than anger. 

The grandparents appear to have a more significant influence with the girls 
than they do "with the boys. It is usually the girls who are sent to help grandpar- 
ents in keeping house; so it is not surprising that the girls consider the grand- 


parents as persons of little less authority than fathers. It is probably the grand- 
mothers who direct and criticize the girls most. 

We have found that the major reaction of the children to society was one of 
fear of potential hostile aggression and anger at actual aggression. This reaction 
is made primarily to people outside the family, classed as "everybody." To the 
boys the most important groups of people outside the family are their age mates. 
With other boys there is a great deal of conflict, revealed by the great preponder- 
ance of "anger" responses. Although there is much quarreling and censure of one 
another among the boys, age mates appear in the responses more often as persons 
who praise than as persons who blame. Hence, we can be sure that age mate rela- 
tionships are not characteristically unfriendly. The boys look upon other children 
as important judges of their behavior and as people with whom they wish to get 
along well, yet the other children cause them much trouble; this creates a serious 
social problem. The shame that girls cause them indicates that the boys feel tense 
with the opposite sex. When the boys act aggressively toward girls, the girls fight 
back by ridiculing and shaming the boys. From all these reactions it is evident 
that social experience within their own generation during childhood produces 
insecurity and anxiety among the boys. 

In marked contrast, the girls' pleasantest relationships outside the family circle 
are those with their girl age mates. Indeed, girl friends and teachers appear to 
be the only individuals except their mothers with whom the girls find truly 
cordial relationship. The extreme fear and anger which girls feel toward others 
as a general behavior pattern seem to be most specifically centered upon their boy 
age mates and the older people in the community. The girls find less pleasure 
than boys in mixing with the general community. Not only are they frightened 
and angered in their usual associations outside the family and school but they are 
also deeply ashamed if anything occurs outside the passive and distant relation- 
ships expected in normal daily life. 

The type of behavior and relationships in the school present best the social posi- 
tion of the Dakota children. Test responses show that going to school is a very 
happy experience after the first adjustments are made, and, furthermore, it is 
looked upon as a moral and social obligation. School, like play, implies a great 
deal of interaction with age mates and teachers. The test responses indicate, how- 
ever, that the children's pleasure in school does not come so much from direct 
participation or intense activity with teachers and other children as from being 
able to immerse themselves in a crowd that is doing something, where they can be 
entertained and find something of interest. In this, school is like going to the 
movies or a fair. Even in doing the definite tasks and attaining the definite ob- 
jectives each year, the children are performing with a large group. In other words, 


children are going to school because they like to be with other people. But, fearing 
the actions others will take, the children keep to themselves as much as possible. 
In our observations of children at school during this study, we saw this with- 
drawal in the exclusive little cliques of related children. When they met other 
individuals, they slapped and hit each other frequently. 

Yet, while social satisfaction is the most important part of going to school, test 
responses show that "getting an education" is also important. This interest in 
getting an education is one of the few signs of an interest in getting ahead, ac- 
quiring some preparation for life, and, in general, desiring to mature. To get a 
job is also considered in their moral ideology as one of the more important good 
things to do, but the job itself is rarely defined. Seldom does the child express a 
desire to be a cowboy, farmer, trader, nurse, or teacher. He only wants to "get a 
job." The absence of definite career goals from the Dakota children's responses is 
as significant as their negative attitude toward their environment. The lack of 
specific roles and objectives or of any organized activity in which they can par- 
ticipate after leaving school seems to frustrate their drives for achievement. 

Teachers are the most important adults as guides and disciplinarians in the 
lives of the boys. The teachers have a more balanced role as praisers and blamers 
of boys' behavior than do teachers for white children in a mid western town who 
were given similar tests. For Dakota boys, however, teachers do not have as sig- 
nificant a role in approving or disapproving of behavior as do the teachers in these 
white schools. The Indian boys' own age mates appear to be more influential than 
their teachers and are thus continuing the contemporary Indian behavior pattern. 
Much of this is attributable to the fact that the teachers, with rare exceptions, do 
not belong to the Dakota society. It seems also due to the fact that most of the 
teachers are women with whom Dakota boys feel more embarrassment than do 
white boys. 

In contrast, teachers appear to have more influence on girls than do their 
fathers or age mates. Since most of the teachers are women, they can carry on 
intimate relationships with the girls without the embarrassment caused the boys. 
The girls* greater ease and generally better relationship with their teachers may 
account in part for the fact that girls like school better than boys. The teacher's 
position of praiser and blamer, or mother surrogate, is as important to the Indian 
girls as to white school children in a midwestern town. The Indian girls, however, 
feel the teacher somewhat less a blamer than do the whites. 

Within the general society, elders, ministers, or priests, and the government are 
specifically designated but seem to have little importance in Dakota children's 
lives. The trader is mentioned only rarely, nearly always as someone "getting 
after them" for stealing. The boys look upon government employees and the 


elders of their community outside the family as more adversely critical than 
friendly; but, except for the oldest boys, the influence of neither group appears to 
be strong. 14 The girls are more timid about adults outside the family but rarely 
mention the government or officials. In fact, they have very little contact with the 
latter beyond the school staff. 

God is the only deity whom the Dakota children mention in their test responses. 
He is not mentioned in the Emotional Response Test as the source of happiness, 
fear, or any of the other emotional responses studied, or as the bringer of good 
things, but he appears in the Moral Ideology Test responses as an authority who 
praises more than he blames. As a praising authority, especially for girls, he 
appears to function with greater significance than grandparents or elders and the 
other people or institutions outside the family and school. 

The clergy as authorities apparently have little significance to the government 
school children. As very few of the school children at the Catholic mission were 
tested, the position of the priests and nuns cannot be stated. It is probable that they 
rank more closely with the teachers as people of authority than with the clergy 
as functionaries in the communities. 

The small number of responses which the Dakota children gave regarding 
themselves as praising or criticizing their own behavior may indicate the slight 
degree to which their consciences are developed. This situation is in kqeping with 
traditional Dakota organization, where social controls were primarily external. 
The fact that this system of control by ridicule and criticism or by constant watch- 
fulness on the part of adult society operates today probably accounts for the high 
percentage of responses in the Moral Ideology Test that people should be pun- 
ished by going to jail rather than by conscience. 

The absence of highly developed consciences among the contemporary Dakota 
children has, of course, great importance for teachers. These children should not 
be expected to do something because it is "right" or "wrong" in itself. We can see 
from their behavior and concepts of authority that Dakota children look to those 
for whom they have deep affection and respect to set standards of behavior. 

Although the responses concerning conscience are. far fewer among Indian 
children than white children of a midwestern town, it is not to be inferred that 
Dakota children are totally without consciences. Inner controls are being de- 
veloped more and more from association with whites a especially teachers, al- 
though not always from the best perspective. Only through endless patience 
and friendly interest can the teacher hope to develop in her children inner 
controls which they need in order to function better in their changing world 
where external controls are failing. 



1 . For a description of the tests see Appendix I. 

2. This is the average for the age group six to eleven, for whom the test was designed. On the Arthur 
test the Pine Ridge children of this age group had an average I.Q. of 101.1; the Kyle children, 98.9. 

3. Average scores for Pine Ridge town were: boys, 107.8; girls, 97.6. For Kyle community the 
scores were: boys, 116.9; girls, 110.3. White children's scores were: boys, 983; girls, 103.4. 

4. See Laura Thompson and Alice Joseph, The Hopi Way (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 
1944), pp. 100-101. 

5. See Robert J. Havighurst and Rhea R. Hilkevitch, "The Intelligence of Indian Children as 
Measured by a Performance Scale," Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, XXXIX (1944), 

6. This section is based upon an analysis by Dorothea C. Leighton, M.D., special physician, U.S. 
Indian Service, of the records of medical examinations of the children made by several members of 
the Pine Ridge medical staff. It should be stated here that, because of the variations between examiners 
and because of the lack of any absolute standards for "good health" or various diseased conditions that 
can be determined by a single routine examination, the analysis can hardly be considered conclusive. 

7. However, medical standards as to what constitutes adequate and inadequate nutrition are so 
uncertain that this statement should not be accepted with finality. For further discussion of diet as a 
probable factor in the present condition of the Dakota see chap. xv. 

8. See Thompson and Joseph, op. >.; and Alice Joseph, Rosamond Spicer, and Jane Chesky, The 
Desert People (Indian Education Research Project [in preparation]), Part IV. 

9. Since July, 1944, the Indian Service has given checks with which to purchase food at stores to 
Pine Ridge Indians entitled to rations. 

10. This classification follows the concept of social interaction, or the reciprocal relationships be- 
tween an individual and other individuals, animals, objects, or situations, discussed in Eliot D. Chappie 
and Carleton S. Coon, Principles of AntAropolgy (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 1942), pp. 36-41. 
Social interaction, as described there, consists of an origin of action and a response. In the present 
study the data of the three categories (action initiated by others, action initiated by self, and no 
personal interaction) were subdivided into: actions which were of interest to the individual and 
brought satisfaction to him and actions which were of concern and anxiety and therefore produced 
dissatisfaction in him. 

11. A few children said death was "the best thing that could happen to them." See the case of Red 
Bird in the preceding chapter. 

12. In fact, it is impossible to distinguish satisfactorily the changes due solely to physical growth 
and those due solely to personal-social development. 

13. Comparative data on test responses made by Indian and white school children which are given 
in this section and the following are from Robert J. Havighurst, "Comparison of Indian Children and 
White Children by Means of the Moral Ideology Test" (MS). 

14. For the boys fourteen to eighteen years old this does not follow (see p. 195). 

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) fl ? ) ) ) ) -) ) -3 ) ) ) ? ggg ggg ggg ggg go g<g- ggg gCg" ggg g<g- ggg" gCC" < < 

f i IHE preceding chapter has described the overt behavior of the children as 
I they have been willing to report it in answer to direct questioning in the 
JL Emotional Response and Moral Ideology tests. This behavior reflects the 
personalities of the group and especially certain dominant personality traits. 
Of these traits, the most striking appears to be the anxiety which arises from 
the lack of personal security among their people and in their physical environ- 
ment. These children have lost confidence in behaving as their impulses direct, 
and home training has failed to teach them new channels into which to redirect 
their energies. In their anxiety from not knowing how to behave they have 
placed a lid, as it were, on their impulses, and so they act in a very constrained 
way. Since they do not know how to utilize their impulses, they gain little 
self-satisfaction; and, because their outward behavior is inconsistent, they also 
gain little approval from those around them. Rebuffed in their contacts with 
others and unable to find inner satisfactions, they withdraw further into them- 
selves and lack warm and emotional responsiveness and vigor. Since human 
beings cannot live under such constant repression of their energy without 
serious strain upon their personality and so must find release in some way, the 
Dakota children understandably exhibit varied and seemingly unpredictable be- 
havior and almost conflicting personality traits. 

On these unpredictable actions and seeming inconsistencies, the projective 
tests throw much light by revealing' how the individual handles his impulses 
and emotions. They furnish information about the individual's attitudes and 
interpersonal relationships as well as about his ideals, disappointments, and 
fantasies, without the inhibitions he feels when he thinks he is talking about 

In the Thematic Apperception Test the child is shown a series of pictures 
and is asked to tell a story about each of them. The pictures represent familiar 
situations a mother and child, two children walking down a road, an old man 
and a boy. By creating stories about them, the child describes much of his own 
relationship to other people, his attitude toward his life-situation, and the ex- 



periences he would like to have. But he is not conscious of telling anything 
about himself and so is comparatively free and open. 

A similar process takes place when the child is shown the meaningless "ink 
blots" in the Rorschach Psychodiagnostic Test and is asked what they look 
like to him. In both tests he gives information about the facts of his real or 
imaginative life and also his way of approaching problems. One child will tell 
a'story full of detail, the characters will have names, and the narratives will 
move along to some sort of denouement. Another will describe the situation 
vaguely, without much attempt to distinguish characters or to resolve the situa- 
tion. One child will see in an ink blot the whole figure and interpret it in this 
fashion, while another will spend minutes elaborating on the tiniest detail of 
form or color. Thus the tests reveal the elements of the child's personality, such 
as his ability to organize, his compulsive tendencies, his method of control, and, 
in general, his way of meeting his life-experiences. The results, therefore, show 
much about the basic personality structure underlying overt behavior. 


From the stories and fantasies given in the Thematic Apperception Test, we 
learn again that Dakota children conceive of the world as a dangerous and 
hostile place. Characters in the children's stories often have too little to eat 
and few of the other material things which make life comfortable. Hence they 
feel deprived and dissatisfied. In their uncomfortable surroundings they often 
become tired or sick. 

The instability of the children's world is also clearly evident from this test. 
The characters in the stories, with whom the children identify themselves, are 
uncertain and suffer many accidents and lose what little security they have. 

According to the analysis of the children's stories, the social structure appears 
equally dissatisfying, for there is not much to do in their environment. The 
relatively stable family unit provides little enough security or guidance, and 
no other organization in the Dakota society gives any real direction for the 
child's energies or rewards for becoming any special type of person. Uncer- 
tainty is the feeling which the child senses in the people and groups around 
him. He sees no worth-while position or function in the future and no attain- 
ment of desired objectives. The social world, like the physical world, is a place 
where there is no definite road to follow, no place to go. This is a terrifying 
fact for a child to discover and rediscover as he grows older. 

A few stable and positive elements in the otherwise emotionally disturbing 
environment offer some security for the child, arouse his interest, and afford 
a measure of prestige. The first is the family, which appears in many of the 
children's stories and responses as a haven and a source of pleasure. The kindly 


and affectionate relationships with parents and brothers and sisters during early 
childhood are always recalled with nostalgia. However, as he grows older, the 
child senses increasingly the anxiety and consternation of his parents and the 
other adults of his environment. The father particularly appears to fail in af- 
fording the expected affection and direction of family affairs; he seems to have 
little prestige and position in the eyes of the child. 

As the stabilizing influence of the family begins to waver, the Thematic Apper- 
ception Test shows that the school begins to offer some measure of security and 
organization to the growing child and some of the continuity lacking in the local 
society. These contributions to the child's security are basic reasons why associa- 
tions at school are, in general, pleasant ones. 

Another positive factor in the stories told by the boys is their pleasure in riding 
and in the life of the cowboy. This is the one specific career which appears to 
appeal to the Sioux boys and to offer them potentially some continuity of occupa- 
tion and objective in life. The possession of horses appears to be a point of prestige. 

The total effect of their environment on the children, however, is the generation 
of a great deal of insecurity, lack of definiteness and recognized purpose, inde- 
cision, and passivity. This is clearly indicated in the details of the stories, in 
which the characters are not named and in which no clear-cut action or definite 
outcome occurs. Relationships with people are uncertain, and unrest and conflict 
are acute. There are few intense and significant social events to give form and 
content to life. Social continuity is not offered to the children either by white 
society or by the residue of the old Dakota culture. 


The Rorschach Psychodiagnostic Test as well as the Thematic Apperception 
Test indicates that Dakota children, in fear of what may happen to them, stifle 
their impulses and energy and their emotional reactions to people and situations 
around them. We have seen that fear and anxiety are generated in the children 
by the unpredictability in their parents' behavior and by the frequent or even 
constant scarcity of food and other necessities in the home. This stifling of them- 
selves is intensified by the controls placed on behavior during early child-training 
which has been in progress some time before the child reaches six, the youngest 
age in the sample of tested children. The constraint effected by both processes 
appears to be accomplished at the cost of the child's vivaciousness and normal 
development. Refusal to participate in life about them, isolation of themselves 
from all persons and activities about them, great caution, and a general negativism 
become the major characteristics of the personality configuration of the group as 
a whole. 

In individuals who cut themselves off or are cut off from others, there usually 


develops a rich inner life as a compensation. This is characteristic o the "intro- 
vert" as the term is popularly used. However, the high degree of emotional tension 
and inward constraint prevents even this from taking place among the Dakota. 

These children can get along through usual situations in spite of the check 
they place upon themselves, but it deprives them of real spontaneity and imaginal 
freedom which would give them greater enjoyment of life and people. They 
become incapable of close or deep emotional attachments to others. Personal inter- 
action is greatly reduced, and their ties to other people are superficial. This be- 
havior has already been observed in the personality sketches. The Emotional 
Response and Moral Ideology tests revealed a lack of solicitude for others and a 
desire to be a passive member of a group rather than an active participant. 

Occasionally, when impulses and spontaneity from within are blocked and 
pressures from without cause unbearable anxiety or tensions, the children lose 
control, flaring momentarily into hostile action. We have seen this behavior take 
the form of petty and trivial acts of criticism, slapping, or taking other people's 
possessions. This is their strongest outward resistance to pressure from others, 
for they are too removed from deep feeling and are too emotionally exhausted to 
act violently. 

Another effect of anxiety stemming from the generally disturbing and un- 
satisfying character of the Dakota child's world is demonstrated by the "escapism" 
in their stories of the good life on the plains before the coming of the white man 
stories which constantly recur in the responses to the Thematic Apperception 
Test. Escape through fantasy is common to the disturbed individuals of all socie- 
ties: one way of adjusting when life become utterly unsatisfactory is to give up 
trying to deal with objective reality and to spend one's time imagining how nice 
things used to be or will be. What distinguishes the escape fantasies of the Dakota 
children is their apparent vividness. Hunting and warfare, living in tepees, 
wearing the old Indian dress, and dancing the old dances are presented as things 
that, it is hoped, will come again. They are not recounted as past glories but as 
satisfactions that may return to make up for the hardships and fears of the present. 
For children to believe this, to be so trained from childhood, is poor preparation 
for the actualities of life, to say the least. The conflict of these daydreams with the 
realities of modern life on the reservation and of white society adds to the inse- 
curity and the resultant anxiety in the child's mind. 


Data from the Thematic Apperception and the Rorschach tests support the 
evidence of the other tests that the psychological structure of the children varies 
as they grow older, come in contact with more of their society, and look forward 
to adult life. Although in the early years of six to eight uncertainty, repression, 


and hampered spontaneity are already present, the children appear to be well 
organized in comparison with later years; their actions show some acceptance of 
the rules of behavior. 

In the next years, from nine to twelve, they appear to lose some of their restraint 
and show a more active interest and zest for life, with increasing spontaneity. Of 
the age groups studied, the children of this group appear to be the freest, the most 
at ease with themselves and the world about them, as their play and open aggres- 
siveness show. This follows the normal development of white children, but, com- 
pared to them or even to Navaho children, who are probably more restrained than 
the white, 1 the Dakota children of nine to twelve lack exuberance and vivacity. 
They never appear to develop a full inner life and remain unable to resolve 
emotional tensions. 

With the advent of puberty, the children begin to retire more completely within 
themselves and lose interest in the world around them. There is a decrease in their 
earlier spontaneity and freedom of behavior. The restraint set up by environ- 
mental pressures now appears to take complete control. The personalities of the 
adolescents seem not to mature; they appear to resign themselves, to become 
apathetic and passive, and to accept the anxiety the outer world creates. In the 
face of this empty and unfriendly world, the adolescents and post-adolescents 
become still more frightened and constricted. 

At this age the boys and girls show different adjustments. The boys are more 
irregular or unbalanced in their control, but they allow a little more expression to 
their impulses and thoughts. However, this is expressed in increased attention to 
generalities rather than in practical and efficient thinking. There is also an appear- 
ance of ambitiousness in their thinking. This may be expected among a people 
who once were their own masters and the dominant cultural group in their area. 
Their ambitiousness now seems only to reflect faintly the self-assertive qualities 
which did not ripen in the distorted cultural situation. The beginning of a philo- 
sophical outlook and ambitiousness are usual in the thinking of young white peo- 
ple of sixteen to eighteen, but among the Dakota boys the first functions as an 
evasion of coming to grips with reality, and the second as a resort to wishful 
thinking or a compensation for the futility which they sense in their situation. 

The girls as they grow older appear to retain some of the more formal control 
of earlier years, the result of the modest behavior they have been taught, and they 
appear to make a more practical adjustment than that of the boys. They continue 
to be, however, very restrained and careful in their approach to life. As they enter 
their teens and sense the significance of pubescence, they show extreme agitation 
when confronted with new or unusual situations; in fright they retire within 
themselves and seem almost powerless to act. This paralysis lessens as they pass 
through adolescence. 



The picture of Dakota child personality which emerges from the tests is one of 
weakness of natural drives and spontaneity resulting from repressive forces set in 
action early in the child's life. This paucity of impulse and emotion appears to 
blight the creativity, imagination, and fantasy that are normal in a healthy mental 
life and to prohibit wholesome relationships with other people. Dakota child 
personality seems crippled and negative, as if it rejected life. The unfriendly en- 
vironment, which offers so little opportunity or satisfaction, retards the growth of 
personality and prevents it from becoming positive, rich, and mature. Life is lived 
on the defensive. 


1. Dorothea C. Leighton and Clyde Kluckhohn, TAe-Pevplrtind^JMir Children (Chicago: Univer- 
sity of Chicago Press, forthcoming), Part II. .*-;' 1 ~ ' 5" ' -' ~ "" " E 



IF LEFT at this point, the picture that has been drawn of the Pine Ridge adults 
and children might seem gloomy indeed. It is necessary to recall, however, 
that this is a group picture. Not all the parents and grandparents nor all the 
children are frustrated beyond achieving a normal or successful life. Children 
such as Robert, Winona, and Andre have made good personal adjustments and 
will probably lead satisfactory lives. In an improved and enriched environment 
their achievements and satisfactions can increase. The children have the level and 
range of intelligence we may expect from an average group of school children 
anywhere in America. They show ambitiousness, although it is usually of the 
daydream variety. These are potentialities of personality which will flower in a 
more favorable environment. 

Looking back across their history, we can see significant events which con- 
tributed particularly to the present condition of the Pine Ridge Dakota. From 
their effect on the people we can gain insights for possible approaches to their 
regeneration. The extermination of the buffalo has often been pointed out as the 
basic reason for the present disorganization of the Plains Indians. Certainly the 
loss of the buffalo was the deathblow to Plains Indian culture, but the present 
predicament of the Pine Ridge Dakota is not a direct result of this episode. They 
achieved during the first decade and a half of this century a new, if less complex 
and rewarding, way of life, centered in a cattle economy. The loss of this economy,- 
in the cattle sales of 1916 and 1917 and the subsequent land sales, appears as the 
most significant single catastrophe in the history of Pine Ridge people. 

The occupation of the men, who had been the keystone of the Dakota cultural 
structure, abruptly vanished. The cowboy life to which they had so easily adapted 
themselves was now without purpose. A well-organized family life had continued 
up to this time. The band-derived communities had survived without severe dis- 
locations. The churches were becoming strengthening factors in the social and 
religious life. But, soon after the loss of the herds, demoralization of the people 



spread to all their social institutions. By 1924 the government became as alarmed 
over the Pine Ridge Indians' failing will to live as over their lack of sufficient 
food and increasing sickness. 

This appearance of starvation in the middle of the 1920's is significant in the 
light of the apathy which has become so general. Most of the Sioux of North and 
South Dakota were showing signs of undernutrition about this time, and all had 
been losing their cattle, although not always by such drastic methods as occurred 
on Pine Ridge. This meant that they were losing their supply of meat their staple 
food for centuries. Even during the time between the disappearance of the buf- 
falo and the building of large cattle herds, the Sioux had been supported by gov- 
ernment rations. The years after 1916, when beef was no longer included in their 
rations, were their first experience in living without meat for a long period of 
time. The loss of the beef and the cattle was an ecological change which has con- 
tinued for nearly thirty years. This change might, and probably did, cause modifi- 
cations in the physiology of the Sioux. Health conditions and observations of diet 
among them' substantiate the assumption that much of their present behavior 
may be attributable to physiological causes. The biological factor, although not 
encompassed in this study, is important to bear in mind as one of the elements 
of the environment affecting the Sioux. 

After their cash from the cattle sales had been dissipated, the Pine Ridge tribe 
began to accept rations and developed a dependency upon the government which 
they have never fully overcome. The Civilian Conservation Corps provided work 
which brought an income to most of the families, but the people remained nearly 
as dependent as they were at the beginning of the depression or when most of the 
band moved to the Agency in 1879. The recent war years have brought work and 
the highest wages which the Dakota have ever earned. But the sources of these 
wages lie outside the reservation and will probably not continue for many more 
years. Even the optimum of postwar employment in peacetime industries will 
not eliminate the fundamental economic and social problems of the reservation. 
Large-scale nongovernment wage work is improbable in this rural and sparsely 
settled area. 

We have seen that the past social and economic experiences have culminated in 
serious personal disorganization as well as severe poverty and unemployment. 
This study has shown that this personal disorganization begins very early in life 
and is seriously handicapping the children on the reservation today. Although 
we have no data about personality development of the adults, the behavior ob- 
served among them and the insecurity they appear to impart to their children, 
suggest they have suffered similarly from oppressive environment. 

These circumstances lead to the conclusion that the fundamental need of the 
Pine Ridge Dakota today is a way of life which will give them personal security 


and an opportunity for creative development. They need a way of working them- 
selves out of the present poverty through a permanent economy based on available 
resources. They need also greater self -direction to permit the regeneration of so- 
ciety. The development of a reservation-wide cattle economy and community 
councils for local self-government offer logical approaches to these goals. 

The local government program has already promoted the revival of the cattle 
economy to increase income and improve living conditions and of a democratic 
political organization to give the Indians greater direction in their community 
and tribal affairs. The condition of the Pine Ridge people requires that emphasis 
be placed upon the human objective and especially upon the objective of relieving 
the psychological distress which now prevails. The government programs eco- 
nomic, social, educational, and political have as their ultimate objective the 
welfare of the Indians; but, in the effort to achieve this objective, the focus has 
rested too frequently on the more concrete goals of material improvements and 
methods of promoting their attainment. Awareness of the long distance which 
many Pine Ridge Indians must travel to gain self-confidence and freedom from 
fear can aid in orienting programs of rehabilitation toward producing the per- 
sonality development and inner security basic to their success. 

In one community, Red Shirt Table, the Agency has already worked intensively 
in the sponsorship of a program of integrated activities for greater economic and 
social welfare. It has stimulated, organized, and guided but has carefully re- 
frained from any form of domination. The community's response in renewed 
activity and personal happiness is already apparent. The people have formed a 
cattle association with a business committee of Indian men and a community 
council for directing local affairs. Old and young gather regularly at the new 
school for work groups and recreational affairs. Men come to repair their farm 
equipment at the shop; women bring their garden produce to can at the kitchen. 
The school curriculum is centered around these activities. Although the Agency 
started the program for able-bodied and interested families, through Indian in- 
>sistence it now includes all the community. The aged and the disabled who can- 
not actively participate and the uninterested and skeptical also have the oppor- 
tunity to share in the cattle herd and all the community affairs. As the program 
succeeds, personal stability and security are spreading through the community. 

The primary values which this program appears to have for the men are the 
restoration of cowboy life as an occupation around which sentiments and pres- 
tige have already been built (including the renewed importance of the horse, 
which is also a point of prestige) and the development of leadership and re- 
sponsibility. The importance which the men play in this program is in keeping 
with Dakota tradition. The men were the keystone in the former social structure, 
and the culture was organized around their careers and achievements. The 


restoration of an occupation which the Sioux already regard as manly and de- 
sirable will prove invaluable to their morale. With a. permanent occupation they 
can provide for their families and gain their respect. Through business committees 
and community councils, the men can again acquire status and leadership. Not 
the least important is the promise that, through their new social position and self- 
respect, the men will become more significant as fathers to their children. 

The values of the program are not limited to the men. The women and girls can 
also increase the activity and significance of their lives. In the present society the 
women have increased their importance in family life and have already emanci- 
pated themselves from their former supplementary role. Through organized clubs 
and guilds, the parent-teacher association, and the community and tribal council, 
they have accepted active community leadership. 

In the school program the children may gain security and confidence by ori- 
enting their lives to objectives which they see are attainable in the daily activities 
developing around their homes. As the schools attune their program more closely 
to positive, functioning elements of Dakota child-training and society, the chil- 
dren may become freer in expressing their feelings and desires. Increased emphasis 
upon group activities with less individual competition, a stable system of discipline 
with the student groups giving rewards and imposing punishments, and social 
studies centered upon Dakota acculturation appear to be aspects of school experi- 
ence which may help immeasurably in aiding personality development. 

Children and adults sure of themselves and their objectives will be equipped 
to strengthen economic and social techniques toward achieving an organized and 
personally satisfying society and to attain a healthy adjustment to their environ- 


The techniques used in the study were drawn from social anthropology, psychology, psy- 
chiatry, and medicine, but the great bulk of the data on which the study is based was obtained 
from interviews and psychological tests conducted under the supervision of the writer by 
members of the field staff drawn from the education and health divisions of Pine Ridge 
Indian Agency and by an anthropologist who was also a Rorschach specialist Some of the 
field staff received preliminary training in interviewing and conducting tests from members 
of the University of Chicago Committee of the Indian Education Research Project. Training, 
discussion, and evaluation of material were carried on by the supervisor and the staff in the 
Kyle area for the first few months of the study. 


The method of interviewing followed the techniques developed by W. Lloyd Warner and 
others in the study of Yankee City 1 and F. J. Roethlisberger and W. J. Dickson in the Western 
Electric Company study. 2 The staff made several visits to die parents and relatives of each of 
the 166 children tested. Indian leaders, councilmen, government employees, missionaries, 
cattlemen, and traders were also interviewed regarding die institutions, functions, and group 
relationships of the community. Although occasional direct questioning about some subjects 
was unavoidable, the ethnologist's usual method of questioning informants through inter- 
preters was not followed. 


Information regarding each child's school work and behavior in the classroom was supplied 
by teachers on a school record prepared by the research staff. This information was amplified 
by observations in the classrooms and among the play groups. The medical examinations were 
made by the Agency staff of doctors and nurses according to an outline prepared by physicians 
on the research staff. 


The psychological tests used in the studies of the five tribes made by the Indian Education 
Research Project were selected from many types after consideration of their suitability to non- 
English-speaking children, their freedom from cultural bias and handicaps, and the variety of 
data they would yield. The basic objectives of the tests were to supply information about 
intelligence, personal behavior, emotional development, moral ideas and attitudes, and the 
structure of personality. Some of these tests elicited not only emotional reactions and attitudes 
toward other people but also voluntary reports of personal behavior and experiences. Other 
tests were employed to find what lay at the bases of the overt behavior; what effect sur- 
roundings had upon the basic impulses, emotions, and mental processes; and the expression, 
controls, or defenses which the individual made to these reactions. The tests were selected to 
obtain information at different levels of psychological behavior. A brief description of the 
various types of test follows. 

The Grace Arthur 'Point Performance Scale (short form) 3 was used to score intelligence by 
a set of nonverbal tests. This performance scale consists of six parts which have been selected 
for their relative freedom from cultural elements and need for English reading, writing, and 
arithmetic or other subjects learned in school. The total test includes the Knox Cubes, Seguin 



Form Board, Mare-and-Foal Test, Healy Picture-Completion Test, Porteus Mazes, and Kohs 
Blocks. The Healy Test was eliminated from the computation of the scores because experience 
showed that it required familiarity with white life beyond what the Indian children possessed. 
The Arthur test measures ability to solve situations, speed of reaction time, and willingness 
to conform, as well as other aspects of intelligence. It is adequate to measure the I.Q. for 
children up to the age of fifteen. 

The Goodenough Draw-a-Man Tesf was also used for scoring intelligence of children up 
to eleven years of age. In this test the child is asked to draw a picture of a man to the best of 
his ability. The scoring is made on the proportions of the figure and the details of anatomy 
and clothing which the child includes. The I.Q. is calculated from the results. 

The Kuhlmann- Anderson Tesf was given to some of the sample group of Dakota children 
in the Pine Ridge school, but it was not part of the test battery designed for the Project. This 
test, like the well-known Binet-Simon, requires understanding of English and reading ability, 
and hence it gave some comparative check on the use of the relatively culture-free intelligence 
tests among the children. The Kuhlmann-Anderson Test also includes performance tests. 

Stewart's Emotional Response Test (revised) 6 asks the child to recount occasions when he 
felt happy, sad, angry, afraid, or ashamed and what are the best and the worst things that could 
happen to him. It thus obtains experiences associated with certain emotions. The responses 
present emotional relationships and attitudes toward different persons, objects, and situations 
on the overt level. These relationships can be classified into types of behavior which give some 
cultural expectancies. In chapter x of this book are described the bases on which the responses 
of the Dakota children were classified for the kind of behavior toward people of different roles 
in the society and analyzed for the type and nature of relationships which the child experi- 
enced with other people and institutions. The responses of this test were combined with those 
of the Bavelas Test of Moral Ideology. 

The Bavelas Test of Moral Ideology 7 asks the child what he thinks are "good" and "bad" 
things to do and thus obtains the official or public moral standards learned by the child. These 
questions aim to find out what the child thinks he should or should not do, not what he 
actually would do in a given situation. In asking who would praise or blame him for doing 
good and bad things, respectively, the questions are intended to discover the child's attitudes 
toward persons in his society who are rewarding or punishing agents. Thus the test gives 
the major fields of moral behavior and the people concerned with such behavior. 

Murray's Thematic Apperception Test (revised) 8 employs a series of pictures of people in 
various groupings and indefinite circumstances about which many interpretations might be 
made. Pictures on cards are presented in sequence to the child, who is asked to tell a story 
about each. For die Indian children, some of Murray's pictures were redrawn by an Indian 
artist and the people put in Indian clothing. For the Dakota, some of the pictures used in the 
Southwest studies were again redrawn to change the appearance of people and scenes to 
familiar forms. After some experimentation, eight of the twenty pictures were presented to 
all the Dakota children tested. Each child was allowed to select two pictures of the remaining 
twelve. Many of the children acted very constrained in telling stories. By deviating from 
the prescribed method and allowing the children to select two pictures, it was hoped that 
they would have more to say about pictures which they had selected. 

It is assumed that the child, in telling stories about these pictures, will project unconsciously 
his own experiences, the bases of his relationships with other people, his reactions to his 
environment, and the nature of his imagination. An analyst can determine from the stories 
the intellectual and emotional configurations, the nature of social relationships, and the kind 
of expression permitted to the impulse life of the individual child. 

The Rorschach Psychodiagnostic Tesf is another projective device for estimating the 
structure of the child's personality. This test employs a series of ten cards, each containing a 
standarized meaningless "ink blot." The child is asked to tell what each blot looks like to 
him. In his approach to and description of the things he sees, the child shows his intellectual 
and emotional characteristics and his fundamental reactions. Analysis of the material gives a 



picture of the structure of the personality its expressed and controlled drives and interests, 
its conflicts and defense mechanisms, and die nature of adjustments made to itself and to 

Not all the children took every test or examination, but enough took each so that deductions 
might be fairly drawn. The types and numbers of tests made hi the study are shown in 
Table A. 


The interview material, focused on family and community life, child-training, ways of 
making a living, and social and religious institutions, was analyzed by the writer and used as 
the basis for Parts I and II of this book. This material was supplemented by government 
records and by literary sources which give the history and former culture of the Dakota. 

Dorothea Leighton, M.D., special physician of the United States Indian Service, summarized 
the data on the health of the children contained in die medical examinations. 










Total children tested 





Intelligence tests: 
Grace Arthur Point Performance 





Goodenough Draw-a-Man .... 





Ku h I'm ann - Ap H ersQH * 




Physical examinations . ,,--...-,- 





Stewart and Bavelas tests 





Projective tests: 
Murray's Thematic Appreciation 





Rorschach Psychodiagnostic 





* Given at one school to 34 children of the sample group: not a part of project techniques. 

Each set of psychological test results was analyzed at the University of Chicago. Dr. Robert 
Havighurst and his associates prepared the statistical data on the Arthur, Goodenough, and 
Kuhlmann-Anderson intelligence tests and the Stewart and Bavelas tests, all of which lend 
themselves to statistical analysis. Results of these tests were compared with those from all the 
tribes studied and with results from some of the same tests administered to a group of white 
children in a midwestern town where the Committee on Human Development of the Uni- 
versity of Chicago has made a study utilizing many of the tests employed in the Indian Educa- 
tion Research Project. Results of the Thematic Apperception and Rorschach tests were inter- 
preted independently for each tribe. In chapters xiii and xiv of the present book, conclusions 
about the intelligence, physical condition, overt behavior, and underlying organization of the 
group personality of Dakota children are presented in this order. 

Since few of these tests had been employed with Indian children previous to this Project, 10 
it was necessary to check the validity of each test for Indian children. This was done by com- 
parison of tests results of white children, where possible, and by comparison of the results of 
one test with those of the others, as far as data permitted. Test results were also compared 
with the material obtained by observation and interview. 

The average I.Q.'s for the Indian tribes were compared with one another and with white 
standards. The Indian groups scored averages similar to, above, and below the white standards 
and, by not being consistently above or below the standard, indicated that they were not at an 


advantage or a disadvantage in taking these tests. The results of the Emotional Response and 
Moral Ideology tests showed significant variations among the tribes and differences from the 
results of the white children in a midwestern town. These differences were expected because 
of the different cultural backgrounds and were explainable on a cultural basis by the an- 
thropologists for each tribe. 

An experiment was then made to check the correlation of the comparable data of each 
test and the life-histories obtained by means of interviews. This was done first with data of a 
few individuals from each tribe. Each test and the life-history material were analyzed and 
interpreted without reference to the other data, the subjects of these experimental cases being 
unknown to the analysts. A report of each child's tests and life-history was then given to all 
the analysts, who were asked to match them on the basis of the interpretations. For example, 
the Thematic Apperception analyst was asked to select from the reports on the life-history 
and the Emotional Response, Moral Ideology, and Rorschach tests those which belonged with 
one of his Thematic Apperception reports. 

The reports about each child were then compared and the existing discrepancies discussed. 
A high correlation among the findings appeared. In order to facilitate comparison, data from 
each test describing phases of the personality were organized according to the following 
outline, prepared by William E. Henry, of the University of Chicago. 


Designed from an analysis of areas of personal dynamics to be discerned from study of the Thematic 
Apperception Test: to be used as an outline for analysis of individual case protocols of Thematic 
Apperception and Rorschach tests and other techniques and for the infra-case comparison of data 
derived from each of these techniques. 
I. Mental Approach 

A. Level of intellectual capacities 

B. Adequacy and efficiency of intellectual functioning 

C. Organization and logic of intellectual approach 

D. Intellectual approach to new problems 
II. Creativity: Extent and Nature 

(Includes Imagination, Originality, Fantasy) 

III. Behavioral Approach 

A. General overt pattern (descriptive summary of overt pattern as observed in action) 

B. Peer relationships (all subadults) (includes comments on relation to male and female peers, 
general acceptance of and by peers, nature of relationship to them) 

C. Adult relationships (acceptance/rejection of adult authority, nature of relationship to them) 

D. School adjustment (to teacher and to work) 

E. Specific problems of Area III 

IV. Family Dynamics 

A. Relationship to mother, father, siblings, and of each to child (overt and covert aspects) 

B. Resolution of primary ties to parents 

C. Summary of family emotional atmosphere 

D. Specific problems of Area IV 

V. Inner Adjustment and Defense Mechanisms 

A. Basic emotional attitude (strength of drive toward solution of emotional problems) 

B. Attitude toward inner impulse life, acceptance/rejection 

C. Anxiety, insecurity, general and specific 

D. Nature of ego defenses (relate Area V to Area III) 

E. Control, system of (inner, conscious, outer, and constricted) 

F. Approach to interpersonal dynamics, nature of emotional ties to other people 

G. Maturity 

VI. Emotional Reactivity 

A. Drive toward outer world 

B. Spontaneity and personal freedom of action 


VII. Sexual Adjustment 

A. Adequacy 

B. Anxiety 

C. Specific problems (includes differentiation of aim and object) 

VIII. Descriptive and Interpretative Summary 

Patterning and organization of items in Areas I through VII including statement of nature of 
adjustment in two areas: self and social 
IX. Prognosis 

X. Descriptive Summary of Data 

NOTE. This is essentially an outline for delineation of present adjustment and does not stress 
etiology. Comments on etiology would be included in Area VIII. 

Ten Dakota children were then analyzed by the same method. These children were selected 
because of differences in age and degree of Indian blood from the cases of boys and girls who 
had taken all types of tests and had an adequate amount of life-history data. The personality 
sketches integrating data from all these reports, which appear in chapter xii of this book, 
were written by the author with the assistance of William E. Henry and Dorothea Leighton, 
M.D. These sketches attempt to describe the personality of the child as it appears from his 
daily behavior, his personal history, and the background of his family and community. Data 
from his tests are then presented to show his capacities, the underlying personality configura- 
tion, and aspects which account in part for his observed behavior and adjustments. 


1. W. Lloyd Warner and Paul S. Lunt, The Social Life of a Modern Community (New Haven: Yale 
University Press, 1941), I, 49-53. 

2. F. J. Roethlisberger and William J. Dickson, Management and the Worker (Cambridge: Harvard 
University Press, 1939), pp. 272 ff. 

3. Mary Grace Arthur, A Point Scale of Performance Tests (New York: Commonwealth Fund, 

4. F. L. Goodenough, Measurements of Intelligence by Drawings (New York: World Book Co., 

5. F. Kuhlmann, "The Kuhlmann-Anderson Intelligence Tests Compared with Seven Others," 
Journal of Applied Psychology, XH (1928), 545-94. 

6. Kilton Stewart, "Test of Emotional Response" (MS). 

7. A. Bavelas, "A Method for Investigating Individual and Group Ideologies," Sociometry, V (1942), 

8. Henry A. Murray, Thematic Apperception Test Manual (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University 
Press, 1943). 

9. Bruno Klopfer and Douglas McG. Kelley, The Rorschach Technique (New York: World Book 
Co., 1942). 

10. Grace Arthur gave her Performance Scale to a group of Indian children from various tribes who 
were students at Haskell Institute. About 250 Rorschach protocols had been collected from four Indian 
tribes (A. Irving Hallowell, "The Rorschach Method as an Aid in the Study of Personalities in Primitive 
Societies," Character and Personality, IX [1941], 237). Stewart's Emotional Response Test had been 
used extensively by the originator among non-European peoples, but the findings have never been 


"Aggressive" is a term often applied to the Sioux character and even to the culture itself. 
For this reason, and because the word is used with widely varying connotations in psycho- 
logical and sociological literature, it is necessary to explain its use in this monograph. 

Aggression as used here, following Kardiner, 1 is the attitude, emotional reaction, and 
behavior directed toward a person or object that causes pain or interferes with the gratifica- 
tion of some need or desire. Types of aggression may be differentiated according to its stimulus 
which sets the drive in action, die specific behavior which takes place, and the goal. The 
somatic sources of the drive have not yet been identified, but the energy underlying aggression 
as self-assertion or self-expression appears to be characteristic of all humans. In the face of in- 
terference or frustration, this energy is "directed in an active way toward another object in 
order to establish over it some form of mastery or control; to subject it to ends of utility and 
pleasure." When this self-assertion achieves mastery, it is well-organized aggression; but, 
when mastery is blocked before the individual gains satisfaction, aggression becomes dis- 
organized. There is, then, satisfactory and unsatisfactory aggression. Satisfactory aggression 
is very often socially approved; some self-assertive activities, such as aggressive salesmanship, 
can achieve success because they are tolerated or encouraged. Other types of aggression are 
controlled or punished by society. 

It is this point of satisfactory and unsatisfactory, approved and unapproved, aggression 
which needs to be clarified to understand the aggressive behavior of the Dakota. In the 
account of Dakota child-training and cultural objectives, it was said that Dakota parents en- 
couraged self-assertiveness in their boys for later aggressions against enemy tribes (see chaps, 
iv and ix) . It may be said that the initial cause or interference that provoked Dakota aggres- 
siveness was the threat of other tribes to the Dakota hunting grounds and subsistence and 
thus to their security. But the secondary social stimuli became the more potent force. 

Aggressive behavior was embodied in the warlike conduct expected of Dakota men. The 
object or goal was die prestige and satisfaction afforded warriors by the men's societies, the 
positions of leadership, and the esteem of the people. 

From the Dakota point of view, the aggression of their men was useful and gratifying and 
served to master others outside their group. Aggression was thus socially approved. This is 
the distinction which must be emphasized about the essential nature of Dakota aggression 
before warfare was barred to them and they were forced to accept reservation life. 

It is not difficult to appreciate how a people trained to be aggressive in war and expecting 
rewards of social success and high status should have difficulty in finding release and satis- 
faction for all the energy they desired to express when warfare was cut off. They had to find 
other channels and targets for their highly developed aggressive drive. Added to this major 
obstacle were all the frustrations of governmental control, pressure to abandon Dakota life 
for white civilization, and the seeming betrayal by some individuals who gave up Dakota 
customs. The energy accumulated from cultural stimuli and from^ reactions to obstacles pre- 
sented by white domination was directed into destructive activity against members of the 
tribe and against the officials who represented the government. This behavior, which is now 
characteristic of much of present-day Dakota activity, takes many direct and obvious, as well 
as many indirect and obscure, forms which are described in the study. Since it is not socially 
approved, it brings slight prestige rewards; being disorganized, it brings little real satisfaction 
to the individual. 



Because the nature and social value of Dakota aggression in the former culture differ so 
greatly from the aggression so common among them today, the term "aggression" has been 
qualified when used in this study. The culturally approved aggression of the Dakota is re- 
ferred to in the text as "self-assertion" or "striving aggression"; the attacking, destructive 
behavior is referred to as "hostility" or "hostile aggression." 


1. Abram Kardiner, The Individual and His Society (New York: Columbia University Press, 1939), 
pp. 56-63. 


ARTHUR, MARY GRACE. A Point Scale of Performance Tests. 2 vols. New York: Common- 
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BAVELAS, A. "A Method for Investigating Individual and Group Ideologies," Sociometry, 

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BEATTY, WILLARD W. "Training Indians for the Best Use of Their Own Resources," in The 

Changing Indian, ed. OLIVER LA FAROE. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1942. 
BENEDICT, RUTH. Patterns of Culture. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1935. 
BLACK ELK. Black El%_ Speaks: Being a Lije Story of a Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux as Told 

to John G. Neihardt. New York: W. W. Morrow & Co., 1932. 
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Study," No. 18. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1939. 
CHAPPLE, ELIOT D., and COON, CARLETON S. Principles of Anthropology. New York: Henry 

Holt & Co., 1942. 

COLLIER, DONALD. "Plains Camping Groups." (MS). 
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Current Business, XX (1943), 10-22. 
DELORIA, E. Dakota Texts. "Publications of the American Ethnological Society," Vol. XIV. 

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. "Sun Dance of the Oglala Sioux," Journal of American Folklore, Vol. XLII, No. 166 


DENSMORE, FRANCES. Teton Sioux Music. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bull. 61. Washing- 
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GESSNER, ROBERT. Massacre: A Survey of Today's American Indian. New York: Jonathan 

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GOLDFRANK, ESTHER S. "Historic Change and Social Character: A Study of the Teton Dakota," 

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GOODENOUGH, FLORENCE L. Measurements of Intelligence by Drawings. New York: World 

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HALLOWELL, A. IRVING. "The Rorschach Method as an Aid in the Study of Personalities in 

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HAVIGHTJRST, ROBERT J. "Comparison of American Indian and White Children by Means of 

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HAVIGHURST, ROBERT J.; KOROL, MINXA; and PRATT, INEZ. "The Performance of Southwestern 
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HULSIZER, ALLAN. Region and Culture in the Curriculum of the Navaho and the Dakota. 
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HYDE, GEORGE. Red Cloud's Fol%. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1937. 

JOSEPH, ALICE; SPICER, ROSAMOND; and CHESKY, JANE. The Desert People. "Indian Education 
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KARDINER, ABRAM. The Individual and His Society. New York: Columbia University Press, 

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KROEBER, A. L. Cultural and Natural Areas of Native North America. Berkeley, Calif.: Uni- 
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MEKEEL, SCUDDER. The Economy of a Modern Teton-Da\ota Community. **Yale University 
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. A Modern American Indian Community in the Light of Its Past: A Study in Cultural 

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-. Personal correspondence. 

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MIRSKY, JEANNETTE. "The Dakota," in Cooperation and Competition among Primitive Peo- 
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MURRAY, HENRY A. Thematic Apperception Test Manual. Cambridge: Harvard University 
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Acculturation, 26-27, 33, 35 

Adjustment: in school, 134-35; of students on the 
reservation, 149; of students off the reservation, 

Adolescence, 139-52; boys' behavior, 194-95; 
girls' behavior, 195-98, 208 

Age differences, 207 

Agencies: Pine Ridge, 32, 53, 72; Red Cloud, 
32, 53; Whetstone, 32, 35 

Agency controls, 120 

Agent; see Superintendents 

Aggression, 137-38, 153-83, 190, 194, 197-98, 
200, 220-21 

Arietta, 116 

Allotments, 37, 38, 39-40, 44 

American Horse, Chief, 66 

Analysis, case outline, 218 

Animals: attitudes toward, 190, 194, 197, 206; 
as gifts, 127; training with, 127, 131 

Anxiety, 44, 155; children's, 191, 206-7 

Arapaho, 31 

Ankara, 31 

Arthur, Grace; see Tests 

Assimilation; see Acculturation 

Assiniboine, 29 

Attitudes, 12, 25, 26; of adults, 190-91; toward 
animals, 190; children's toward school, 132, 
146; of oldest generation, 105-9; of parent 
generation, 10911; toward property, 127; to- 
ward religion, 102; toward reservation, 148- 
52; toward social structure, 198-202; white, 
83, 120-21, 123 

Avoidance, 63; breakdown of, in school, 144; 
brother-sister, 131; see also Relationships 

Badlands, 69 

Bands, 37, 52, 66 

Batesland, South Dakota, 40 

Bavelas, A.; see Tests, Moral Ideology 

Beatty, Willard W., 152 

Behavior, 54; age and sex differences in, 117, 
137, 195-98; children's, 153, 184-202, 204-9; 
Dakota pattern of, 153-56; in relation to social 
structure, 198-202; in school, 135 

Benedict, Ruth, 104 

Bennett County, 44 

Big Stone Lake, Minnesota, 29 

Biology, factors of, in personality, 184 

Birth, 123 

Black Hills, 22 

Blauch, Lloyd E., 78, 84 

Blue Earth River, Minnesota, 29 

Brothers, 59, 139; in relation to brothers, 139, 

198; in relation to sisters, 1^1 
Brule (subtribe), 21; history of, 29-30, 37, 53 

Carlisle Institute, 35, 106, 108 

Cattle: early raising of, 35, 37-38; loss of, 27, 

39, 110; re-establishment of, 41 
Ceremony, 87-91; Buffalo, 94; ear-piercing, 89, 

94, 106; give-away, 89, 107, 113-14; keeping 

of ghost, 94; religious, 87-91; see also Death, 

Marriage, Peyote cult 
Chappie, Eliot D., 203 
Cheyenne, 30, 31 
Chiefs, 35-37, 53 
Children: adolescence, 139-52; ceremonies of, 

89; health of, 187-88; infancy, 123-30; peyote 

and, 101; psychological behavior of, 184-202, 


Christianity; see Religion 
Churches, 68, 69, 96-98, 100-102; Catholic 

72, 96; Episcopal, 35, 96; Presbyterian, 96 
Citizenship, 79 

Civilian Conservation Corps, 40-41, 211 
Climate, 43-44 
Communities: reservation, 6678, 212; white, 


Competency Commission, 39 
Competition, 113, 135 
Conflict, 29, 64, 105-21; full-blood-mixed-blood, 

147; religious, 93, 109, 113, 121; reservation 

and school, 134, 146-50 
Conscience, 202 
Controls: agency, 120; over children, 128, 132, 

135, 154; social, 53; by superintendent, 35-36, 


Coon, Carleton S., 203 
Co-operation, 135 
Cowboy, attraction to Indian, 108 
Crazy Horse, Chief, 31 
Creamer, Daniel, 51 
Crook, General, 38 

Culture, in personality, 184-86; see also Dakota 
Custer, General, 21, 31, 33, 38 
Custom, suppression of native, 3536 




Dakota, 21, 22, 27; effects of reservation life on, 

153; history of,. 29-36, 41, 53 
Death: ceremonies, 94-96; children's concern 

over, 192 

Densmore, Frances, 103-4, 122 
Discipline, school, 144-46; see also Controls 
Disorganization, effects of, 105-21; individual, 


District, 68, 74-77 
Divisions: agency, 79-81; biological, 25; cultural, 

25, 29; political, 25; sociological, 25, 26 
Dress, children's, 128-30 

Economy, 40, 0-45, 149, 211 

Education: boarding schools, 142-48; for change, 

35, 36, 57; early schools, 35, 37; of girls, 58; 

methods of, 132-33; objectives of, 132, 142-44, 

214; of parents, 109; value of, 200-201 
Eggan, Fred, 64 

Emotional Response Test; see Tests 
Emotions, general patterns, 188, 189-202 
Employment: children's attitude toward, 201-2; 

off-reservation, 151 
Environment, social, 205, 209 
Erikson, Erik H., 14, 26, 122, 130, 183 
Escape, 137, 146-48, 153-55, 195, 207 
Ewers, John C., 41 

Family: biological, 56-60; break-up of, 68, 116- 
17; child's attitude toward, 192, 193, 198-99, 
205-6; conjugal, 62-64; extended, 60-62, 67; 
as source of security, 194, 197 

Father, 57, 109; and son, 139, 199 

Fear, girl's, 140 

Fort Laramie, Wyoming, 31 

Fort Robinson, Nebraska, 32 

French, 69 

Full-blood communities, 66 

Full-bloods, 23-25 

Gall, Chief, 32 

Games, 133, 143, 191 

General Allotment Act, 78 

Generation: oldest, 105-9; parent, 109-15 

Generosity: of boys, 194: training for, 126-27; 

see also Ceremony, give-away 
Gessner, Robert, 42 
Ghost Dance, 33 
Ghosts, 191 

Give-away: see Ceremony 
Gods, Dakota, 87 

Goodenough Draw-a-Man Test; see Tests 
Government: federal, 78-81; policy of, 117-21; 

student, 143 

Government assistance: federal, 48-49; state, 48 
Grandparent, 60, 105-7, 199 

Harney, General, 21, 31 

Hassrick, Royal B., 8, 13, 64, 103 

Havighurst, Robert, 141, 203, 217 

Health, 123, 211, 215; concern for, 155, 191-92; 

of Dakota children, 187; standards of, 203; see 

also Undernutrition 
Henry, William E., 8, 13, 218 
History, 21-28, 29-41, 210; see also Life-histories 
Holidays, 133 
Hopi, 9, 15 
Horses, 39, 45 
Hulsizer, Allan, 42, 152 
Hyde, George, 41, 64 

Impulses, 204, 209 

Income, 40, 45, 49-50 

Indian Education Research Project, 8-10, 187 

Indian Reorganization Act, 44, 50, 71, 81 

Individualism, 113 

Insecurity, 109, 121, 153, 155-56, 194-95, 205-6 

Intelligence: of Dakota children, 186-87; of 

Hopi and other tribes, 187 
Interviews, method of, 215, 217 

Joking, between in-laws, 55, 64 
Joseph, Alice, 15, 203 

Kardiner, Abram, 221 

Kinship, 54-55 

Klopfer, Bruno, 219 

Kluckhohn, Clyde, 15 

Kuhlmann, F., 219 

Kuhlmann- Anderson Intelligence Test; see Tests 

Kyle, 10, 67, 68, 70 

Land, attitude toward, 112 

Laws, governing Indians, 79, 84 

Leadership: suppression of native, 35, 68; young 

people's, 149-50 

Leighton, Dorothea, 14, 15, 130, 203, 217 
Life-histories, 156-83, 218 
Little Wound, Chief, 67 
Little Wound School, 75 
Lowie, Robert H., 103 

McGillicuddy, Julia B., 22, 42 
McGillicuddy, Valentine, 33 
Marriage, 62-63, 93, 94, 96 
Martin, South Dakota, 40, 74 
Medicine men, 86, 89, 91 
Medicine Root Creek, 70 
Medicine Root District, 75 
Mekeel, Scudder, 14, 64, 77, 104, 105, 122 
Messengers, 53 

Method, 9, 11; in child-training, 127-28; used in 
study, 215-19 



Mexicans, 68-69 

Mille Lacs, Minnesota, 29 

Mirsky, Jeanette, 64-65, 122 

Missionaries, 37; see also Church 

Missions, 72, 96-98, 152 

Mixed-blood communities, 62-72 

Mixed-blood homes, 73 

Mixed-bloods, 23, 25 

Moral Ideology Test; see Tests 

Morality, 106-7; sexual, 108; see Virtues 

Mother, 57-58; and daughter, HO; and son, 139, 

Murray, Henry A., 219; see also Tests, Thematic 


Navaho, 9, 15 

Office of Indian Affairs, 79 

Officers; see Chiefs, Tribal council 

Oglala (subtribe), 21, 37, 53; history of, 29-30 

Oglala Community High School, 72, 142, 152 

Ohio Valley, 29 

Omaha (tribe), 29 

Oregon Trail, 31 

Organization, social, of the Dakota, 52-54 

Papago, 9, 15 

Personality, 184-212; Dakota pattern of, 204; 
definition of, 184-86; and effect of environ- 
ment, 211; group, 184; and health, 187; 
nature of, 11-12 

Peyote cult, 100-102 

Pine Ridge, 10, 72-73; establishment of reserva- 
tion at, 32 

Platte River, Nebraska, 31 

Play: children's, 128; as training, 131 

Playmates, 132, 194, 197; girls', 200 

Police, agency, 35, 53, 119 

Policy, Indian Service, 9, 36, 121, 212 

Pregnancy, protection of, 89 

Processes, 12 

Rabbit Dance, 25 

Range, bombing, 70 

Rations, 35, 37-39, 48, 106 

Red Cloud, Chief, 31, 54 

Red Cloud Agency, 32, 53 

Red Shirt Table, 212 

Relationships: affection, 55; boy-girl, 140; child- 
parent, 56-58; importance of, 54; respect, 55, 
56, 63; see also Family, Kinship 

Relief, 48-49, 81, 120; see also Rations 

Religion: Christian, 91-98; Dakota, 85-91, 100; 
people's, 106; see also Churches 

Reser\ation life, 148-52 

Reservations: Great Sioux, 21, 31, 37; Pine Ridge, 

21, 32 

Respect; see Relationships 
Responses, from tests, 190, 200, 204-9 
Rites of passage, 94, 96 
Roberts, W. O., 13, 42 
Roethlisberger, F. J., 219 
Rorschach; see Tests 

School, attitudes toward, 146; see also Education 

Schwarz, Charles F., 51 

Selective Service Act, 79 

Sex: adolescent relations, 147; behavior of boys, 

194-95; code, 93, 117-18; differences in child, 

207; see also Avoidance 
Shamans; see Medicine men 
Shame, 132,- 137, 147,154 
Shirt Wearers, 53 

Sioux, 9; study of, 10-13, 21; see also Dakota 
Sioux Benefit Fund, 48, 50 
Sisters, 59, 140, 199 
Sitting Bull, Chief, 32 
Societies: of Oglala, 53; police, 53; in Sun 

Dance, 89 
Spanish, 68-69 

Standing Bear, Luther, 42, 106 
Stealing, 193 
Sterner, Armin H., 152 
Stewart, Kilton, 219 
Stewart, Omer, 104 
Subtribe, 53-54 

Sun Dance, 87, 88-91; prohibition of, 32, 52 
Superintendents: early, 35, 41; Indian name for, 

Suppression: as child's behavior, 135-37; results 

of, 154, 156 
Swanton, John R., 41 

Talking, child's first, 125-26 

Tchi-tchi man, 191 

Teachers, 201 

Tests, 9, 184-202, 204-9, 215-19; analysis of, 
217; Grace Arthur Point Performance Scale, 
186-87; Emotional Response, 189-90, 199, 
202; Goodenough Draw-a-Man, 186-87; 
Moral Ideology, 189-90, 199, 202, 203, 207; 
psychological, 215-16; Rorschach Psychodiag- 
nostic, 205; table of, 217; Thematic Appercep- 
tion, 204; validity of, 217 

Thematic Apperception Test; see Tests 

Thompson, Laura, 15, 203 

Thunder Bull, Chief, 67 

Thunder Bull Community, 67-68 



Tiyospave, 52, 53; basis of communities, 66, 116 

Toys, 128 

Traders, 22, 70, 201 

Training of children, 123-30, 131-38, 139-52; 
with animals, 127; early, 126; in regard to 
property, 127; toilet, 126 

Tribal constitution, 75 

Tribal council, 68, 81 

Tribal court, 81, 119, 145 

Tribe, Teton-Dakota: government of, 53; or- 
ganization of, 53 

Undernutrition, 183, 211 
University of Chicago, 9, 10 
Useem, John, 50, 152 
Useem, Ruth, 50, 152 

Values, 105; in child -training, 127, 131, 135; of 
community program, 213-14; white, 108; see 
also Virtue 

Virtue, 89-90 

Virtues, Dakota, 106-8 

Wage work, 45-47, 49-50; attitude toward, 110- 

12; school graduates in, 149 
Walker, J. R., 88, 103 
Walking, children's first, 125 
Wanblee, South Dakota, 10, 40, 74 
Wardship, 78-79 
Warner, W. Lloyd, 14, 219 
Wasicu, 116, 122 
Weaning, 124-25 

White Buffalo Maiden, 65, 87, 108 
White Clay, 83 
White Clay Creek, 32, 33 
White River, 21, 69 

Whites, 78-84; attitudes of, 83-84; resident, 81 
Wissler, Clark, 42, 64, 104 
Withdrawal; see Escape 
Women, position of, 118-19 
Wounded Knee, 33 

Yuwipi, 98-99, 102-3 
Zuni, 9, 15 




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